On August 18, the Denver City Council’s Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure committee ran out of time to consider whether a landmark application on Carmen Court should be moved to the full city council.
Carmen Court, at 900 East 1st Avenue and Emerson Street, involves six condos built in 1925, an ensemble that is loaded with fine details, and, well, charm. Hines, the developer that wants to scrape the condos and build a luxury senior living facility, has a contract with the owners of the condos, but then… three neighbors announced that they wanted to designate Carmen Court as a landmark. And they said they would send in an application to save it.
Yesterday, on August 25, there was more discussion, and there seemed to be a breakthrough: The owners and the applicants will discuss by next Tuesday whether they want to extend their talks for 45 days. It seems that Hines’ managing partner, Chris Crawford, said “the company was open to someone buying the properties and reimbursing the developer for some expenses.” Interesting.
So, Chris Herndon, the chairman of that committee, moved things forward, as quoted in Denverite:
“Tuesday’s decision came after a plea from Councilman Chris Herndon, the land use committee’s chairman, that both the applicants for the landmark designation and the condo owners return to mediation and come to a conclusion themselves rather than letting the full council decide the fate of the property for them.”
The owners and the applicants can report back to the committee, giving them the option to again discuss the future of Carmen Court. Both sides noted they also wanted to continue the discussion. One part of the council committee was a discussion that Crawford, at Hines, that to build this facility would need to be 16 stories tall to fit on a small portion of the land. Financially, it didn’t make sense, he said, so if the owners and applicants can find a different buyer… but who knows what will happen.
The Denver Landmark Preservation Commission needed to OK adding another extension. And, about three hours later, an agenda for the landmark meeting on September 1, there was a business item to “extend a 90-day deadline to designate. Recommendation: Approval” (for the commission to make a decision going forward).
To be honest, the Denver City Council isn’t thrilled to get involved in this kind of situation (though I think one of the members would love to have developers develop every bit of land in Denver).
And, then, this, from Denverite (including a quote in BusinessDen):
“Councilman Jolon Clark, whose district includes the condos, isn’t a member of the land use committee, so he didn’t get to vote on Tuesday. But during Tuesday’s meeting, he foreshadowed a tough evening for him and his peers on council both sides can’t come to an agreement.
“ ‘I think if everyone’s willing to really go for 45 days — maybe we can’t resolve this,’ ” Clark said. “And maybe we have to have to have a soul-crushing night at city council to determine that. I hope not. I really hope not.’ ”
Years ago, I stopped watching any council meetings (full and/or committee), because too many of the council members were so happy to hand a building over to a developer. The Hornbein and White buildings east of Colorado Boulevard and East 9th Avenue lost the bid to be landmarked. And that was it for me.
But now, things are different, and this one certainly is different. The loss of so many important buildings (or small homes) have been scraped because Denver has been a gold mine for those who have wanted to rake in money. And, the results? Well, just drive around for a while, and you will see Denver in its non-glory.
The links below include stories from BusinessDen and Denverite yesterday and on August 18, including links that lead to the two committee meetings.