A one-two punch, or maybe just a time out for preservation

Landmark disc Screen Shot 2019-09-03 at 10.53.20 AM

Demolition/preservation/landmarking fatigue can set in when it’s been a summer of battles. But if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. Some people just do not get the fact that some neighborhoods — neighbors — are tired of being pushed around and suddenly awash in a sea of ugliness around them. And sometimes they are pushed out. So, people push back.

A meeting yesterday of the Denver City Council’s Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure had two items that seemed made for each other. First was the situation involving the Olinger Moore Howard – Berkeley Park Funeral Chapel, at 4345 East 46thAvenue, a fine example of the prolific Denver architect J. Roger Musick’s knowledge of fluid design.

Then, the committee, with other council members chiming in, took up the issue of changes in the preservation ordinance – even before it has been OK’d by the city council. Sort of like kicking sand in the faces of the 16 members of the task force that met for over a year to update and refine (and change) the ordinance.

As for the mortuary chapel, developer Carl Koelbel of Koelbel & Co. and veteran preservationist Tom Simmons spoke, and said that they had had good talks along with  interest from other entities that might forestall demolition. The talks are confidential, but the temperature dipped quite a bit. The parties want to take a “pause” to discuss – one of the changes that was proposed for the updated ordinance, which makes perfect sense. This matter goes to the full city council on Monday, then back to the landmark commission on Tuesday. The commission is expected to extend the “pause.”

As for the ordinance itself: District 4 City Councilperson Kendra Black proposed to the committee the idea of a supermajority vote on the full council for owner-opposed applications. Black got support from a council person not on the committee  (Stacie Gilmore), but it went nowhere. The ordinance will be forwarded to the full council, with first reading on September 23.

Finally, the number of projects posted on the city’s planning department page for certificates of non-historic status is down to two as of this morning. The mortuary is still on there, but the other one is relatively new: a 1930 apartment building at 2830 East 17thAvenue. It’s apparent that projects on that list present a target, but it’s better to know than not know. This summer, the list was pretty long, including the Park Hill Farmhouse, Tom’s Diner, and the mortuary.

The links below lead to two stories in today’s BusinessDen,  one in Denverite, and one in Colorado Politics. The Colorado Politics story is pretty neutral, but the headline is hilarious: “Deal between residents, developer could save Berkeley mortuary chapel before another Denver landmark debacle.”

The only “debacle” here is the lemon of a zoning code – and greed.

Colleagues reject councilwoman’s pitch to require supermajority approval of hostile landmark requests


Berkeley neighbors may reach compromise with developer to extend the life of a mortuary — at least its building


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