Community leaders start push to save historic building

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Two concerned residents are teaming up in an attempt to save a historic Colorado Springs building from the wrecking ball.

The former Union Ice and Coal Building, located at the corner of Sawatch and Vermijo downtown, was scheduled for demolition until John Hazlehurst and Tim Leigh stepped in. The two won a reprieve for a few days from owner Mike Trapp and the company hired to demolish the building, G.E. Johnson Construction.

“John contacted me this weekend about the building, and it turns out I knew the people involved,” said Leigh, a current city council member. “So I asked for a few days so we can get our ducks in a row to try to save it.”

The building has a rich history, he said. Not only is it a former ice house – built around 1895 – it also was a steam plant for the former city jail, Leigh said.

“It’s something we don’t want to lose without trying to save it,” he said. “I always say ‘If we reach to the past, we’ll find our future.’ But in Colorado Springs, we tend to tear down our past in the name of progress.”

Leigh said he isn’t sure the building can be saved – it’s a little late in the process and he only has a few days to pull together a deal.

“All I’ve gotten so far is the consent to hold off on a few days,” he said. “But imagine if we can save it, it could become the centerpiece for an entire urban renewal of that block.”

Hazlehurst, a former CSBJ columnist, and Leigh are holding a press conference this afternoon to drum up support to save the historic building.