Moving a Design Vision Forward: Pikes Peak Park Breaks Ground

Case Studies

rendering of pikes peak park

NeighborWorks recently celebrated the groundbreaking of the Pikes Peak Park mixed-use development in Pueblo, Colorado, which aims to provide more than 600 affordable houses, townhomes and apartments when it’s complete. As The Pueblo Chieftain reported, the neighborhood will be the first in the United States to use a shared equity model at this scale, not only addressing Colorado’s housing crisis but also serving as an example for other regions as it aims to make homeownership a realistic and affordable goal. NeighborWorks’ shared equity model leverages up-front investments to keep home prices below market rate and ensure that payments won’t go up unexpectedly in the future. This kind of long-term stability is a priority for Pikes Peak Park. The master plan, envisioned by NeighborWorks and designed by Civitas, similarly prioritizes the shared assets and amenities that communities need to grow and thrive: access to childcare, healthcare, healthy food, parks, trails, and more. Looking beyond individual homes, the goal is for people to feel valued, included and inspired to participate in caring for each other and the land.

From the start, Pikes Peak Park has been envisioned as a collection of distinct neighborhoods each with its own personality and physically connected by a network of walkable streets, open spaces, and paseos that encourage the human interaction necessary to develop the personal bonds that grow a strong and inclusive community.

As the project broke ground, Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar said city staff had first told him, “you can’t believe what they want to do – there’s no way.” But went on to say that “we figured out a way, and the city is on board.” This is the kind of progress that makes our work so fulfilling and motivates our team’s perseverance. While our work starts with a private developer client, it frequently involves aligning the goals and aspirations of the private developer and city to achieve a bold vision to create beautiful and resilient communities. It’s not always visible, but critical to our projects’ success is Civitas’ strength in navigating policies and politics and overcoming hurdles to prioritize impactful public realm design. We serve as our client’s champion, and – often more importantly – as a champion for the people who our clients aim to serve. We’re committed to uphold the original design intent or vision as projects move through city review and approval processes. Otherwise, without that champion, there’s risk of the design being watered down to satisfy outdated planning and zoning criteria rather than imagining a better community and future for the residents, and to us, that’s not real progress.

rendering of pikes peak park

Throughout each project, we are committed to uphold the design vision, yet we never prioritize a single viewpoint over another. We consistently ask questions, listen, and integrate different perspectives as we seek solutions that synthesize different viewpoints while also keeping the project moving forward. For Pikes Peak Park, we’ve recently been working hard to prioritize the pedestrian experience, working with multiple departments within the City of Pueblo to connect the dots, reach consensus and align project details with the big-picture vision. We’re developing creative solutions that balance competing departmental regulations and policies that are approved by city council in order to help our clients avoid additional hearings and new approvals that would cause weeks of costly project delays.

We are grateful for the opportunity to work on such an important project with a forward thinking development team like NeighborWorks and with Pueblo’s collaborative city staff who not only understand the importance of the vision but also work tirelessly to bring it to fruition.

As the city begins work on their own scope of the development – the primary north-south street, funded by American Rescue Plan grants, that connects to hospitals, schools, YMCA, existing trails, etc – Civitas will aim to stay involved to ensure original design intent is maintained. Just because the initial concept design is done doesn’t mean we’re done. We’re motivated to see it through and see the positive impact.