Empty residential lots are few and far between in Old Town Fort Collins, but they do exist! Today we’re starting a blog series about Mike and Debbie, a recently retired husband and wife who are building a brand-new custom home on the northern edge of Old Town.
Although they hail from New Mexico, Mike and Debbie are no strangers to Northern Colorado, and they’re eager to put down deeper roots in the Choice City. Over the next nine months, we’re going to follow the construction progress of their home, and share plenty of stories and photos, in our latest HighCraft blog series: A New Build in Old Town.
In today’s post, we introduce the owners, and reveal their ties to Fort Collins and a piece of local history. We also share their “must-have” goals for the new home, as well as some fun photos from groundbreaking day.
FORT COLLINS – A LOVE STORY
Mike and Debbie fell in love with Fort Collins nearly twenty years ago. They had driven north from Albuquerque with their son, Grant, to attend his freshman orientation at Colorado State.
“From day one, we’ve loved Fort Collins,” says Mike, “and we could see why Grant was excited about the town.”
Their son appreciated Fort Collins, CSU, and the area’s outdoor recreation potential, but something else had captured Grant’s attention during orientation. He pointed out a student to his parents, “And he said, ‘Mom, I really like that girl. She’s really cute,’” Debbie remembers with a chuckle.
Four years later, Grant graduated from CSU with a degree in hand, and with his future bride and savvy business partner, Julia, by his side.
Julia, who had just earned a degree in merchandising, was the girl from orientation.
As a student, Grant had been a fly-fishing guide for St. Peter’s Fly Shop – a local company named for the patron saint of fishing, and known for its quality fly-fishing gear, classes, expert advice, and guided trips.
So when St. Peter’s Fly Shop came up for sale, Grant and Julia knew the business would be a great fit for their combined work experience, passion for fly fishing, and education from CSU. With the help of Mike and Debbie, Grant and Julia bought St. Peter’s Fly Shop on Remington Street in 2007.
St. Pete’s Old Town location at 202 Remington Street – known by local historians as the McHugh-Andrews house, or “The Mayor’s House” – was built with locally quarried sandstone. Construction began in 1885 and was completed in 1889.
By 2007, the beautiful historic landmark needed some TLC.
A HISTORY WITH HIGHCRAFT
HighCraft’s Scott Fetters was one of the first people to explore the attic space under St. Pete’s new ownership. “When he opened the door,” Mike says, “[Scott] told me he could hear rats running in every direction in the walls, and a bat flew over his head and out the door. But HighCraft didn’t flinch at that,” he says. “They saw the challenges and were up for the task.”
HighCraft remodeled the entire attic into an apartment where Mike and Debbie could stay when they visited from Albuquerque.
“HighCraft took it down to the brick, and it just turned out fantastic,” Mike says of the cozy studio apartment. “That renovation cemented our relationship with HighCraft.”
In 2011, Grant and Julia added a second St. Peter’s Fly Shop location on the south side of Fort Collins, which eventually moved to its current home at 2008 East Harmony Road in 2013. Once again, the family needed renovations, so they called HighCraft.
Our team remodeled the former salon and day spa, and connected it to a detached barn, to expand the retail space at St. Peter’s Fly Shop South. “They did just a beautiful job” Mike says.
“As repeat clients, we’ve learned that HighCraft is dependable. They do what they say they’re going to do, when they say they’re going to do it, in a way that’s very efficient,” Mike says. “And their quality is second to none.”
Today, Grant and Julia own both St. Peter’s Fly Shop locations and run everything themselves. Mike and Debbie are happily retired, divested from the fly shop business, and moving on to their next adventure – building a new custom home with HighCraft.
For more photos of the remodeled shops, including the attic studio apartment, check out the blog post “Remodeling Spotlight: St. Peter’s Fly Shop.”
A GOOD REASON TO BUILD
Mike and Debbie have so many good reasons to build in Fort Collins, but one little reason stands out for them the most. His name is Hardy.
“We wanted to feel at home when we’re in town visiting Grant, Julia and Hardy,” Mike says. “We wanted a home that wasn’t on top of the fly shop, or in a crowded condo – we wanted something more comfortable when we spend time with our family in Colorado.”
“Our only grandchild is in Fort Collins, but we’re sensitive to Grant and Julia having their own lives,” Mike says. “We want to build a space for us, and respect their space as a family.”
GOALS FOR THE NEW HOME
What are Mike and Debbie’s “MUST HAVES” in their new custom home?
- take full advantage of the natural views toward the Poudre River
- build a comfortable house where they can make memories with Hardy
- design multiple spaces for indoor-outdoor living
- include an open-concept kitchen, living and dining room area
- build an oversized three-car garage
- create a soft contemporary design (less stark than true contemporary, with a warm and welcoming interior)
- include some special design features, including artisan light fixtures and other custom touches
“We want to look out at the open space, to enjoy that part of the house. So we want large glass doors to open up. We want the kitchen, dining room and living room on that side of the house where we can enjoy the outdoor space,” says Debbie.
“We usually buy previously owned homes,” Mike says. “Given our age and our level of motivation, this is most likely the last home we will ever build. So we want to spend some money on a few special features, knowing this is probably our last project.”
Mike took the ceremonial first dig into his home’s foundation.
Julia, Grant and grandson Hardy joined Mike and Debbie for the groundbreaking.
Hardy and his grandma were already making memories.
And Mike and Debbie celebrated the beginning of their custom home construction.
FOUNDATION AND FRAMING
After digging the foundation, our crew built the forms and poured the concrete.
And then backfilled dirt in and around the foundation walls.
We started framing in July.
And the main floor framing is well underway.
Here the crew is getting ready to frame the second story.
And you can see the large opening for the system of bi-fold glass doors that will be installed on the second floor.
And to the right is the framing for the large fireplace surround.
Stay tuned to this monthly blog series as we follow the home’s transformation and hear from the homeowners, interior designer and project manager throughout the process.
Whether you build new construction, or remodel what you have, HighCraft’s experienced design-build team can navigate every detail of the planning and construction process so you don’t have to. Contact HighCraft with questions or to schedule a free consultation.