COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- An iconic complex of late-19th century buildings that has been closed for nearly four years is closer to being reimagined for new uses and a new purpose.
The Union Printers Home, at the intersection of Pikes Peak Avenue and Union Boulevard, opened in 1892 as a rest and recovery facility for retirees of the printing industry who suffered from tuberculosis and other ailments.
Authorities closed the property in February 2020, after a patient from a nursing home on the property froze to death on an outside bench; last summer, police arrested two people suspected of breaking into the home -- causing damage and stealing $250,000 of copper wiring.
In 2021, a group of local investors -- UPH Partners -- bought the property for more than $18 million and announced plans to convert the 26-acre property into retail, residential and commercial space, including some office space and entertainment venues.
The UPH website https://unionprintershome.com/union-printers-home-masterplan/ presents renderings of how the property may look after the current development of a master plan is completed.
Investors said that the project will also preserve the property's history and tradition as a place of healing, while serving as a place to spur future creation and innovation in the city.
A neighborhood meeting to update the public about the master plan was held Thursday night at Clay Venues, 10 North Wahsatch Avenue, downtown; at least 50 people attended.
Susan Pattee, a partner with UPH, revealed new details about the project earlier Thursday.
"The estimated price tag is a very wide range -- somewhere between $500 million to $1 billion," she explained. "So, it's a very large project. We think that groundbreaking is two years away. The time line between groundbreaking and completion would be variable. Ideally, it would 10 to 20 years, probably, where we'd be finished."
Pattee said that private donors and grant funding could help finance the project; one of the partners is the O'Neil Group, a local firm that's been active in development, job creation and technology.
The owners compare the scope of the project to the renovation of Union Station in downtown Denver,
They also want to preserve the history of the home and make it part of the future vision.
"Learn more about the people, especially. who have been impacted by this place, or lived here or worked here," said Ellie Hinkle, directory of history and archives for UPH. "My hope is that going forward, we'll be able to take all of those people's stories and infuse the whole property with their lives and their histories."
The iconic castle building has a full kitchen, a basement auditorium and numerous historic items; all four buildings of the complex are still connected by underground tunnels.
Owners said that they were shocked that the property had no historic protection against demolition when they acquired it; so, they're in the process of applying for inclusion to the National Register of Historic Places.