Ever consider the appearance of your alley?
Or its functionality?
Or what it could be other than a place for garbage cans and delivery trucks?
But some folks do think about stuff like that and they are re-imagining what alleys of downtown Colorado Springs could be.
Inspired by a couple of artists/gallery owners, a local architectural firm is working with the Downtown Partnership and others to see if it can create a new urban space from an alley.
I’m intrigued by the idea.
“We try to look around downtown and see what we are missing,” said Ron Butlin, executive director of Downtown Partnership.
“Are there under-utilized spaces in downtown? In my opinion, there are. We have wall space where murals could go. We have parks that are under-utilized.
“And we have alleys. These are clearly spaces not being utilized for anything other than service.”
Actually, artists Lauren and Brett Andrus have begun already. They own the Modbo and S.P.Q.R. art galleries located in an alley off Bijou Street.
They have held a wedding reception in the alley and concerts, Butlin said.
“It’s really an exciting idea,” he said.
Others are doing it, too. Fort Collins and Pasadena, Calif., are a couple places reinventing their alleyways as public spaces, he said.
I can see some of you shaking your heads.
Then attend Monday’s open house at HB&A Architects, which has been brainstorming ideas for the Modbo/S.P.Q.R. alley between Cascade Avenue and Tejon Street in the two blocks between Platte Avenue and Kiowa Street.
It’s not such a radical idea. I’ve done business in alleys. It’s not what you’re thinking, either! I used to go to a cobbler in the alley. It reminded me of Chicago, the Billy Goat Tavern and Lower Wacker Drive.
L&H Jewelery operates across the alley from Modbo. I even ducked in a trendy alley bar once, called 15C, until the cigar smoke drove me out. (Guess I’m not hip.)
The backs of the buildings are as interesting as the Tejon Street facades. It’s a cool, urban space if you overlook the rolling trash dumpers and transients.
Looking at HB&As drawings, I can envision how a few changes — strands of twinkling lights, interesting planters and benches and stone pavers — can transform the alley into an exciting urban pedestrian space.
“If we dress up the space in those back areas, we’d have a wonderful area to congregate,” said Andrea Barker of HB&A, 102 E. Moreno Ave. “This is an interesting space. It’s gritty and edgy.”
And if Colorado Springs wants to attract young urbanites, these are the kinds of things we need to explore. I’m an alley kinda guy. I say give it a shot.