‘I feel empty churches are sad.’

Warren Church redo Screen Shot 2020-03-03 at 10.53.37 AM

That was perhaps one of the most important sentences spoken at a Denver Landmark Preservation Commission meeting earlier this week.

Warren United Methodist Church in the Wyman Landmark District was sold to the Saint Francis Center after closing the church in 2014. It was a house of worship for 113 years. And now, it will shelter people in workforce housing, with 48 apartments, communal dining, restrooms and such.

The Center plans to upgrade important elements around the sanctuary, and add four dormers on top of the Fellowship Hall, allowing for more apartments (which are tiny). The dormers will be placed below the ridgeline, to not harm the look of the 1952 Modern Fellowship Hall.  A little bit more than 50 percent of the roof will be demolished to accommodate that change, which required a public hearing. Shopworks is the firm working on this project.

After the public hearing, the design topics were addressed. The six commissioners who were in attendance approved both measures.

The sentence in the title of this post was spoken by a doctor who supported the change in use, and other speakers also showed support. Two people who live nearby are concerned, but with different types of concerns. One neighbor worries about privacy and those who would be living in the apartments. Another person is concerned about the dormers, which he believes will ruin the building’s rooflines.

The main speaker from the Saint Francis Center was the organization’s director Tom Luehrs, who explained that the people who will rent there do not make enough money for ever-growing rents in the metro area. There will be supportive services, which the Saint Francis Center stresses.

The links below lead to a story today in Denverite, by Donna Bryson, who covers hunger and housing. Also, there are links from a story on The Denver Channel (7) about a month ago, the documents from the applicant and the staff report, and a story from The Construction Reporter.

Bryson included this quote, which makes a lot of sense: “We see the key way to help people get out of homelessness is to help them find housing,” (Tom) Luehrs said. “There’s such a great need for people in our community who can’t afford high rents to have something that’s subsidized.”






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