Below are three images:
The first is the Olinger Moore Howard – Berkeley Park Funeral Chapel, a 1960 building designed by the respected architect J. Roger Musick.
The second is an earlier rendering of the complex that Koelbel & Co. wanted to build replacing the building on the corner of Tennyson Street and West 46th Avenue. I couldn’t find an architect on this project, but since Koelbel deals in multi-family and other projects, it could be someone within that firm.
The third is the suddenly appearing image yesterday of a new complex for that site, whipped up to hope the neighborhood will like it “for the next 60 years.” No matter what people want, Koelbel & Co., with the owner of the mortuary, Service Corporation International (SCI), will demolish the mortuary unless it is designated a landmark.
I know which one has my vote.
During a year of neighborhoods fighting for older buildings on the chopping block to be replaced by something many of the neighbors do not want, we are now coming to the conclusion – for good or bad – for the fate of the mortuary. Bonnie Brae Tavern, Tom’s Diner, the Park Hill Farmhouse… and now this. The Denver Landmark Preservation Commission yesterday voted to move the application to designate the mortuary as a landmark; the matter now goes to a City Council committee, and then to the full City Council. I believe there will be more of these non-owner applications, because the redevelopment of Denver has been so brutal in some areas.
Yesterday, probably 30 or more neighbors / members of the Historic Berkeley Regis neighborhood organization and preservation advocates spoke to the beauty of the building, but also to its importance to the neighborhood. Many speakers also pushed for adaptive reuse, with suggestions for how the building could get a new life.
Also, let’s be honest, the Berkeley neighborhood has been highly redeveloped in a fairly short time, and some blocks look like something out of a movie set. Don’t get me wrong: Some of these 4-story homes and duplexes are super sleek, but like other neighborhoods, it’s been too much, too fast.
Opposing the designation were the real estate director for Service Corporation International (SCI), Dann Narveson. Carl Koelbel from Koelbel & Co., which wants to purchase the site, talked about the problems with the building. They brought up the sewer easement on the site and ceilings too low to rework and how hard it would be to reuse the building. A consultant, John Feinberg, from The Collaborative, Inc., pointed out how there were just so many styles in the building that it was a “mish mosh.” “It has lost its integrity,” he said. Huh?
Koelbel noted that “there is no use for this building today.”
We’ll see how this moves on, or if there can be some sort of discussion to keep the mortuary. One has begun, but, as always, can someone afford this purchase? I still can’t find a price for the sale, but I am sure it is somewhere. After all, in Denver, all you need is money.
Below are links to stories in BusinessDen, Denverite, and 9News Next (which is where I saw this out-of-a-magician’s-hat new rendering while watching that show (the story starts at 16 minutes in). I didn’t see this image among any of the slides shown at the meeting. Also, there are links to city documents, the application, and the staff report