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Building that housed beloved Fort Collins restaurant eligible for landmark status

Posted at 5:10 PM, Jul 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-24 19:27:15-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The building that once housed Pobre Pancho's, a beloved Mexican restaurant in Fort Collins, is getting a second chance.

"This little building, as little and as plain as it is, is tied to so much history with its story," Monica Bird said.

Her family owned the restaurant for more than five decades. When it struggled during the pandemic, they sold most of the ownership to a longtime customer who wanted to keep it afloat.

But the new owners, Darren and Asher Haun of H & H Properties LLC, closed the restaurant's doors in March of this year, citing "COVID financial strain" and "unforeseen circumstances."

"It's been gutted. Everything inside has been sold or given away," Bird said.

Building that housed beloved Fort Collins restaurant eligible for landmark status

She and her family thought the closure would mark the end of their story at the location until fast-food chain Raising Cane's took interest in the site. That triggered a historical review because of the building's age, which found the building is eligible to become a landmark. The owners and their counsel appealed that decision.

"They put over $100,000 into the restaurant to make it survive, and it just didn't work. So now, now they can't get out from under it," Jeff Cullers, an attorney at Herms & Herrera LLC, said at Wednesday's Historic Preservation Commission meeting.

He and the property owners argue making the property eligible to become a landmark, for example, would limit redevelopment, and any future uses would be limited.

"If a property is designated as a historic landmark, it is likely that the property may remain vacant for years to come," real estate broker Mark O'Donnell said at the meeting.

However, despite the property owners' opposition, the commission voted 7-0 to uphold the review's determination that the property is, indeed, eligible to become a landmark.

Now, Bird and her family plan to file paperwork to officially give the building landmark status. Doing so would prevent any demolition.

"This building being here is more important than ever, because people have forgotten the history, the history of the United States, the history of even our town, the community, the Latino community," Bird said.

Denver7 reached out to Cullers to find out what the property owners plan to do with the building. He had no comment.