March 16, 2017 Vol. 16 No. 17
Beckers Lane property sold; owners begin renovations
Written by Jeanne Davant   


Fighting until the end

031617_MSHS_BBB_D_Adamscheck 031617_MSHS_GBB_A_Olson

Top, Davyn Adamscheck takes to the air for a shot during the March 9 Sterling state quarterfinal game.

Above, Ariana Olson shoots a layup during the March 9 state quarterfinal game against Colorado Springs Christian School.


The Manitou boys basketball team fell to Sterling in the Class 3A Great 8 on Thursday, March 9. The 58-50 loss was only the third loss of the year for the Mustangs (22-3) and the eventual state champion Tigers were the only other team besides Colorado Springs Christian School to beat them this year.

In the Class 3A girls basketball Great 8 round at the University of Denver, the Lions once again edged the Mustangs, this time with a 38-32 overtime win on March 9 to advance to the Final 4. The Lions would go on to lose in the state championship to Tri-Peaks rival Lamar.

The long saga of the Beckers Lane Lodge may finally be over.

031617_BeckersLane_signThe property has been sold, and the unsightly, decaying structures will be replaced by a small motel and a townhome development.

The two parcels that comprise the property were sold in January, Manitou Springs Code Enforcement Officer Kurt Arnoldussen said Tuesday.

The southern parcel, 110 El Paso Blvd., was sold Jan. 19 to Gritz Enterprises LLC. The northern parcel, 115 Beckers Lane, which includes a two-story building, was purchased Jan. 31 by independent developer Eddie Bishop.

The one-story building on the south parcel is under full renovation, Planning Director Wade Burkholder said.

“The intent is for it to stay a motel,” new owner Cristine Gritz said Tuesday. She said the building would have six one-room units and a suite with a kitchen.

“We’re redoing all the plumbing, heating and electrical. We’re putting in brand-new windows, and we’re going to stucco the exterior. It’s going to be a brand-new building,” she said.

Gritz said she is using “higher-end finishes on the inside so it will bring in a nicer nightly rate, and that will get a different type of people in there.”

The first step was clearing out two Dumpsters’ worth of debris that had been left behind.

“It was in very poor condition when we took over,” Gritz said. “We are pretty much having to redo everything.”

Gritz expects to complete the renovations by the end of April and currently plans to resell the motel through her real estate company, Grapevine Realty of Colorado Springs.

“I may also consider hiring someone with motel experience to run it for us, because I love Manitou,” she said.

Because the use of the building remains the same, Gritz was not required to go through a conditional-use process.

Bishop, who could not be reached for comment, plans to demolish the building and replace it with townhomes or a multifamily building similar to the townhomes he built adjacent to the south part of Beckers Lane Lodge, Burkholder said.

He said Bishop is working with an architect to determine the building’s layout and how many units it might contain.

“It would be a major development and would require rezoning of the property as well,” Burkholder said.

The owner has not yet submitted any applications for the project.

“It really is in the beginning stage,” Burkholder said.


Troubled history

The Beckers Lane Lodge has been an eyesore and neighborhood nuisance for years.

The lodge was shut down in October 2014 over unpaid water bills by then-owner Bill Shirley, and tenants living in the unsafe and substandard units were evicted. The property was boarded up, but vagrants continued to break into the building, and neighbors complained about foul smells and the property’s unsightly appearance.

Last summer, it appeared that some of the units again were being rented, even though the building had no running water. On July 25, Police Chief Joe Ribeiro posted an order for tenants to vacate the property.

The then-mortgage holder and operator of the lodge, Joe Huber, and his attorney, Virgil Meadows, filed a handwritten appeal of the order to vacate.

Council denied the appeal Oct. 4, finding that the appeal was not submitted within a 30-day time limit and in a manner prescribed by the City Code.

Meanwhile, on July 21, Manitou Springs police cited Frank DiMeo and Santa Anna LLC, the owners of record, with four violations, including:

  • Vendor’s payment responsibility (lodging tax);
  • Business license required;
  • Vendor’s responsibility (collection and payment of sales tax);
  • Not having a long-term occupancy license; and
  • Not having a long-term conditional-use permit.

On Feb. 21, Manitou Springs Municipal Court Judge Martin Thrasher issued guilty verdicts against both defendants on the first three counts.

During the trial, Thrasher dismissed the charge relating to a long-term occupancy license because the relevant Municipal Code section does not contain a specific requirement to obtain such a license, but only outlines a process for approval of an application.

Thrasher found the defendants not guilty on the charge of not having a long-term conditional-use permit. Although the city believed tenants had been occupying the property and paying rent for more than 30 days, it was unable to subpoena any former tenants to testify at the trial.

The court fined Santa Anna LLC $500 for each of the three counts, plus $75 in court costs, for a total of $1,575.

DiMeo received a fine of $1,000 plus five days in jail for each of the three counts, pus $45 in court costs, for a total of $3,045. Thrasher suspended the jail term on the condition that DiMeo have no convictions for similar violations in Manitou within the next 12 months.

According to prosecutor Debra Eiland, “the judge stated that, based on Mr. DiMeo’s blatant disregard for the City Ordinances and the fact he was offering substandard and unsafe housing to disadvantaged persons, he originally intended to have DiMeo serve the jail sentence.

“The reasons the judge chose to conditionally suspend the jail sentence were Mr. DiMeo’s age (81), and the fact he is a veteran,” Eiland emailed to City Administrator Jason Wells.

The judge gave the defendants 30 days in which to pay the fines.

“The judge could find them in contempt or order them back to court if they don’t pay,” Ribeiro said, adding that the defendants have the right to appeal the decision.

The Police Department and Arnoldussen are continuing to watch the property closely.

“I go by twice a day to make sure they’re getting all their permits,” Arnoldussen said. “It’s going to be better than it was, that’s for sure.”