Appeal on Pobre Panchos directed to City Council

The fight over Pobre Panchos will likely continue into next month, as a landlord-led appeal over the building’s eligibility for historic landmark status is set to go to the Fort Collins City Council on September 20.

The fate of the former Fort Collins Mexican restaurant — which closed this spring after less than two years under new ownership — has been up in the air since April, when City of Fort Collins staff determined that the building 61 was eligible for state and local landmark status.

The restaurant, which moved from Old Town to 1802 N. College Ave. in 1969, was run by Frank Perez and his family until 2020, when health issues led Perez to sell the business and its building to longtime client Asher Haun. Perez died of liver cancer later that year.

Haun closed the business at the end of March, citing challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, two years without profits, rising food costs and a slowing economy as reasons for the shutdown. Shortly after, Haun confirmed plans to sell the property to Raising Cane’s, which planned to raze Pobre Panchos and build a new drive-thru on its site and on the site of a used-car dealership located in side.

Pobre Panchos, pictured here in 1976, opened at 1802 N. College Ave.  in 1969. For the next 50 years, Frank Perez kept the restaurant in business until a diagnosis of terminal liver cancer led him to sell the business and its building.  The restaurant closed in March 2022. Today it is the subject of a fight for its eligibility to become a historical monument.

The Chicken Fingers Chain Proposal triggered historical surveys of properties since the buildings at both sites are over 50 years old. While the car dealership was not considered eligible for landmark status, Pobre Panchos was, with staff citing its history as a long-standing fixture in Fort Collins’ Hispanic business community.

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Haun, doing business as H&H Properties, appealed the staff decision on May 2. decision was confirmed by the Fort Collins Historic Preservation Commission at its July 20 meeting. H&H Properties appealed the commission’s decision on August 3, sending the matter to the Fort Collins City Council.

Following the July 20 commission’s decision, Raising Cane’s told the Coloradoan that it is now looking for new sites to consider for its next drive-thru in Fort Collins.

If City Council upholds the July decision of the Historic Preservation Commission and determines that Pobre Panchos is eligible for landmark designation, it will be subject to the protections listed for historic resources in the city code and H&H Properties will be required to obtain a change in standards to demolish the building or make alternations that do not meet preservation standards, according to Fort Collins senior historic preservation planner Jim Bertolini.

However, a decision confirming the property’s eligibility for the landmark will not make it a designated local landmark – this formal designation process should still be initiated by the nomination of community members, a council member council or the Historic Preservation Commission itself.

If the property is deemed ineligible by the city council, there are no further historical considerations for the property and – unless the council’s decision is appealed to the Larimer County District Court – its owner may demolish the property for new construction, Bertolini said.

Haun’s appeal is to be heard by council at its regular Sept. 20 meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Fort Collins Council Chambers at West City Hall, 300 Laporte Avenue.

The future of preserving our pastAfter the first attempt at designation of its kind, what is the next step for the historic preservation of Fort Collins?

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