While some residents are becoming increasingly concerned about the cost of housing in Fort Collins, there are others that are removing relatively more affordable homes and replacing them with… well, not housing. 

Three or four bicycles parked between the sidewalk and the street next to a tree.

125 S. Grant as it looked in 1948. Photo taken by the Larimer County Assessor’s office and currently on file with the Archive at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, 125SGR48.

There’s something going on in Old Town and it seems to be picking up steam. Houses are getting torn down and they’re not being replaced with new living units.

In 2012, one of Fort Collins old timers passed away. Her house had decayed over time, a problem that’s particularly common as residents age in place but don’t have the strength, ability, or finances to make needed improvements to their homes. After this long time resident’s passing, her immediate neighbors bought the property and paid to have a company come in and deconstruct the house. The company employs former convicts, in this case a team of women, who literally took the house apart brick by brick. Every part of the house that could be reused was.

The most environmental route to go with an older house is to repair and maintain it. But when a house is too far gone, then deconstruction is the best next practice. The new property owners enacted a plan that was better for the environment than demolition and provided jobs to a team of friendly women who worked hard and were a pleasure to have in the neghborhood while they worked. But one thing the new property owners didn’t do was build a new house on the property. They may some day, but right now it’s a lovely garden area to the side of their house. The two lots have been combined and are listed as one on the county assessor’s website.

Three houses in a row. The first was converted into a dental office. The other two are just houses.

308 S. Washington – there, then gone. Images from Google Streetview. 

Over the following eight years, several smaller, comparatively more affordable houses were town down in Old Town. (There seems to be about 8-15 houses torn down each year.) But they were all replaced with (albeit significantly larger, sometimes as much as 6x larger) single family houses. But in 2020 a house was demolished at 308 S. Washington. What was it replaced with? Well… it appears to be a living room added on to the neighboring house–a house that had already been doubled in size just a few years earlier. 

Three houses in a row. The first was converted into a dental office. The other two are just houses.

724 S. College, adaptively reused as a dental office.
720 and 724 S. College, cheap housing for students.

Three houses were recently deconstructed on S. College Avenue. The former owner of the dental office, located in the house on the left, had had plans of scraping the two houses at right and putting a new dental office in their location. But for whatever reason that never happened and all three houses were sold in 2022 for a total of $1,600,000 (or about $533K per house). The dental office had already moved out of the adaptively reused house, but students were living in the two other houses. Between the two single family homes there were 5 bedrooms and it was a convenient and cheap place for students to live near campus. 

Now all three homes are gone and the current plans for the land? A parking lot. 

A.   Parking.   Lot.  

Three houses in a row. The first was converted into a dental office. The other two are just houses.

809 W. Mountain

And last, but by no means least, is this recent demolition at 809 W. Mountain.

In 2018, new property owners purchased 811 W. Mountain for over a million dollars. They bought it as a fixer-upper and spent the next few years making changes to the house. Then in 2022 they bought 809 W. Mountain and applied for a demolition permit. The house was torn down recently and neighbors have been curious what it will be replaced with. One neighbor asked the property owner, who said they were going to put a garden on the lot. That same neighbor talked to the contractor later, who said that they were going to be installing a pickleball court.

Now this is all hearsay. Plans are not posted online for single-family homes like they are for commercial developments. But if what this neighbor claims to have heard is true, then there will soon be either a $700,000+ garden or a $700,000+ pickleball court coming soon to Old Town West. Needless to say, neither of those options will help solve our current housing crisis.

Have you seen this happening elsewhere in Fort Collins, where housing is being torn down and replaced with not-housing? If so, I’d like to hear about it. Add your stories to the comments below.