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Two houses offered for free in Colorado Springs giveaway — but there’s a catch

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- With the average home price at $500,000, getting one for free would seem too good to be true, right?

But that's exactly what's happening with two adjacent houses on West Costilla Street in the southwest downtown area.

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The houses were built around 1900; the smaller one is vacant, has 1,000 square feet and is valued at $270,000; the larger one has 3,000 square feet, is valued at $340,000 and is currently occupied by a law firm that will move out at the end of the year.

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According to an involved contractor who spoke with KRDO NewsChannel 13, the owner of the homes and the surrounding property wants to replace them with a development project to include a 22-story apartment building and an office building.

The apartment building would become the city's tallest, but plans have yet to be submitted to officials.

The owner, Kevin O'Neil, doesn't want to demolish the houses and would rather give them away to nonprofit organizations or individuals who want them.

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"We just acquired these properties this year," said Andy Merritt, a spokesman for the O'Neil Group. "As Kevin was thinking through what he's going to do with this stuff, tearing them down just made zero sense to us. They're great houses, so let's make an opportunity to someone."

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There's a catch, however -- the buyers would have to pay at least $50,000 to have the houses moved to another location, and have land on which to place the home.

A former leasee of the smaller house said that there are no house-moving companies in Colorado Springs, and that the nearest is in Denver.

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Jesse Moses, of Calhan in eastern El Paso County, evaluated the houses Wednesday and expressed a strong interest in it.

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"I love the history of Victorian houses," he said. "I have ten acres where I can move it to. I'm talking with someone about a cost estimate to move it."

Nina Diaz also came to see the houses but wasn't aware that she'd have to pay to have them moved.

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"That probably eliminates me," she said. "Because of the housing market, and me, personally, I've always wanted a house. If I had a property to do it and the money to move it, that's still way cheaper than going to buy a brand-new house."

But some longtime residents of the southwest downtown area wonder how the coming development will change the neighborhood.

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"I'm glad the owner doesn't want to tear the houses down," said Bonnie McIntosh. "We're getting more housing in return, but it's not the single-family housing that we really need. The concern is parking, there's never enough. The neighborhood is already changing because of the new soccer stadium and the apartments that will be built beside it."

For more information, call 719-445-5050.

Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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