Two years later: Remember the Colburn Hotel?

One of the first posts on this blog was on October 31, 2018. If you live in Denver, you probably have seen the Colburn Hotel on Grant Street, just south of West 10th Avenue. The 10-story building was constructed in 1925 as a residential hotel, and has sheltered many people. There used to be several of these residential hotels in Denver, but many have been demolished over the years. Or, you might have been in that building, where there is a great bar called Charlie Brown’s (which is so very cool). 

But now, almost two years later, the Colburn Hotel has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, mainly because of its history and architecture. It was designed by William N. Bowman; some of his many other buildings include the Mountain States Telephone Building, the Colorado State Office Building, and the Norman Apartments. I do not know if the company that purchased the Colburn – Gorman & Company, LLC – will pursue a Denver landmark designation, which offers more protection for the building. But achieving the listing on the register has allowed the firm to use tax credits that help.

Still, there was an “ ‘unprecedented urgency’ to preserving affordable housing in Denver. ‘If we don’t act now, we lose these apartment homes for our most vulnerable community members forever,’ ” a quote from Kimball Crangle, the Colorado market president for Gorman & Company, included in a story in the Winter 2019 edition of the Historic Denver News. Apparently, the company felt it needed to purchase the building because a 25-year Land Use Restriction Agreement had expired. 

Said Crangle: “We believe in preserving affordable housing to our core,” in that newsletter. The company “bought the property with bridge loans, and planned to “refinance it with 4 percent federal and state historic tax credits so the building can be upgraded and maintained.” 

The company that purchased the Colburn has done updates to the rooms, and the people who had lived there on very low incomes are back in their home again. For years, the Colburn had become an SRO, that is, a single room occupancy building; now, there are efficiency apartments. 

As the metro area struggles to provide affordable housing – or really low-income housing or housing for those who have very few funds at all – we now read information in August 2020 in the latest Market Trends Report, that the average price of a home sold in the metro area over $600,000. The median price is about $510,000. 

But let’s be real: Not everyone can make this work, but there are so few properties on the market that it is not possible for many who can’t find a home.

A big “thanks” to a friend who forwarded a press release that noted that the building was on the register, and staff members at History Colorado helped me to find that nomination document. The links below include stories in Denverite and BusinessDen in 2018, and a link to the application that is informative about history, architecture, and the residential hotels. 

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