Ivywild is a hard-luck neighborhood south of downtown Colorado Springs where folks have been struggling to combat encroaching blight and crime.
It’s been a working-class neighborhood for years. But recently it has suffered as a home to drug dealers, prostitutes, other criminals and homeless people.
It’s elementary school has closed and businesses have left as the neighborhood deteriorated.
In recent weeks, Ivywild has been declared blighted and qualified for an urban renewal designation, which would help spur economic revitalization by allowing tax revenue from future development to be used for public improvements.
One improvement residents want is the elimination of homeless camps like this one at South Cascade and St. Elmo avenues.
The property is among 25 or so owned by On the Ivy, a company founded by developer Mark Morley, downtown club owner Sam Guadagnoli and real estate broker Robert Aertker.
On the Ivy amassed about 12 acres of land in Ivywild along Cheyenne Creek in 2007 with plans to develop an upscale urban region similar to Cherry Creek in Denver.
But the economy went bust and all the big plans were shelved. Meanwhile, On the Ivy’s property in Ivywild continued to deteriorate.
Colorado Springs Code Enforcement officers have tried to clean up homeless camps in Ivywild, but Administrator Ken Lewis said On the Ivy has not cooperated with his team’s efforts.
In fact, Lewis said On the Ivy mostly ignores requests to cooperate.
Now, a small group of business owners including Martin Harper, a certified public accountant, is taking action. They are planning to clean up the worst of On the Ivy’s overgrown lots and try to keep the homeless from flopping there.
Neighbors are tired of the trash dragged to the area by homeless and they fear the fires they build at the camp.
And Lewis said he’s going to dedicate a couple of his team to working with Ivywild to address the blight.
A more controversial column was related to racist covenants filed with the original Ivywild development plans and attached to every property. Here’s the blog for that column with photos of the covenants.
For an in-depth story about developer plans for Ivywild, I recommend this excellent piece, published Aug. 3, 2008, by Gazette business writer extraodinaire Rich Laden.