Before the Acacia Park outdoor rink became a seasonal tradition, downtown Colorado Springs had a permanent indoor rink that was open for 10 years. It was called the Plaza Ice Chalet and was located at 111 S. Tejon Street, inside the Plaza of the Rockies.
Built in 1984, the sprawling, 168,000-square-foot Plaza of the Rockies office and shopping complex has become a hub for several businesses, and the rink has been a popular destination for skating enthusiasts, school trips, and holiday celebrations. The ice rink was part of the building when it was constructed on a city-designated urban renewal site.
The Ice Cottage hosted an annual Christmas show in conjunction with the Festival of Lights Parade. This event usually offered free performances and skating times. In 1989, the Broadmoor Skating Club and the Centennial Skating Club held show skating performances with skaters ages 6 to 17.
The 1990 Ice Chalet Christmas show featured a routine from two-time US National Silver Medalist and Colorado Springs resident Scott Cramer. Jill Trenary of Colorado Springs, who was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2002, was also known to skate there.
The site was popular with locals and the facility and was one of only two places available for public skating at the time. The other was the Sertich Ice Center in Memorial Park. The Chapel Hills Mall skating rink only opened in 1998 and closed in 2006. Despite its popularity, the Ice Chalet was not a money maker according to the owners of Plaza of the Rockies.
The Bank of Nova Scotia, which seized a $ 21 million loan on the complex in the late 1980s, closed the rink on March 9, 1994 before selling it to local developer David Jenkins, president of Nor’wood. Development, who bought the property. for $ 6.3 million. At the time, Jenkins said he wanted to remove the rink from the first floor because it was losing money and because he did not have liability insurance to cover its operation.
“It’s an economic drain, always has been,” Jenkins said of the rink in a May 12, 1994 article in The Gazette.
The Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority, which oversaw the initial development of the Plaza of the Rockies, had to approve a change in use of the building and agreed with Jenkins.
“It’s sad to lose ice space in Colorado Springs,” authority chairman Mike Baker said in the same article. “But, in my opinion, you cannot force a private owner to keep part of his property for public use.”
Colorado Springs skating fans weren’t happy with the decision. More than 30 parents of children taking skating lessons at the rink pleaded with the authority to keep it open.
A lawsuit filed by Bill Huddy, a broker for PaineWebber Inc. and director of the Plaza Ice Chalet figure skating club, prompted the authority to take a second vote on the rink’s closure. Huddy argued the authority had overstepped its bounds because the removal of the ice rink was a substantial change in a 22-year-old city renewal plan, a change only city council should make.
The effort was unsuccessful, however, as Huddy couldn’t find a $ 10,000 bond that a judge wanted as collateral to reimburse Jenkins for damages he might suffer if the order were later rescinded. In a second vote, the authority unanimously agreed to let Jenkins get rid of the rink.
A little over a year later, in August 1995, Jenkins completed an $ 800,000 renovation of the Plaza of the Rockies. It added 42,000 square feet of office space on two floors, and included a redevelopment of the lobby and extended elevator service to the building’s parking garage.
Today, Nor’wood Development owns, develops and manages several properties across the city, not just the Plaza of the Rockies. This includes the communities of Nor’wood, Wolf Ranch and Mesa Ridge. He also developed the First & Main Town Center near Powers and Constitution, the Alamo Corporate Center and four apartment communities.