Monday night, May 3, there was a quick reference to the Denver7 Building, a precursor to the public hearing on Monday, May 10. District 10 Council Representative Chris Hinds spoke up because the Denver7 Building is in his district, at 123 Speer Boulevard.
He said that he had talked to the press about this issue, but didn’t comment on what should happen to the building; he was careful, which is what council representatives usually are.
But then, District 2 Council Representative Kevin Flynn called out this bill, as noted in a story the Denver Business Journal the next day:
” ‘I want to hear some input on the potential for First Amendment implications by imposing financial restrictions on this journalistic operation and possibly putting obstacles in the way of their modernizing their operations and potentially impacting their newsgathering ability,’ Flynn said.
“Flynn was a journalist with the now-shuttered Rocky Mountain News for 27 years.”
And then the city council members moved into the lengthy discussion of landlords requiring licensing for apartments, etc., etc., etc.
Well: Apparently, Dean Littleton, the ABC affiliate’s vice president and general manager, at Channel 7 (KMGH-TV), heard this.
Today, in a story on Westword, Littleton said:
” ‘We feel trapped,’ Littleton says. ‘If the building is designated, we may not be able to afford to move, because the designation diminishes the value of the property. But if we stay and have to make a change to the outside of the building due to being knocked off the air, we’d have to go through a lengthy process to get permission. We’re a 24/7 operation, and I can’t wait 24 hours to replace a microwave dish. That could be devastating to our station because of the minute-by-minute nature of our business.”
Mr. Littleton, yes, this is confusing for just about anyone. But the beginning of the lengthy designation application deals with what an owner can do and cannot do once it is landmarked. You do not have to wait 24 hours to install a new microwave dish. Now, if you were to paint the building’s exterior a soft beige or greige, that would not work.
Here’s why, even though many people think this is just gobbledygook, and, yes, it is a lot to swallow, but it is necessary in a complex process like this:
“Contributing and Noncontributing Features or Resources
“Describe below how contributing and non-contributing features were determined.
“Resources and features assessed as contributing are those built within the period of significance (1969-73) which retain historic integrity and support the property’s architectural and historical significance. The legal parcel boundary described above includes one contributing building, the 1969 KLZ Communications Center, comprising a five-story octagonal office tower, five-story stair tower, and two-story studio and garage and contributing historic landscape features. The digital signage, antennas, satellite dishes, and other equipment attached to the building are non-contributing given their presumably recent installation and/or temporary nature and are not included in the resource count, but considered part of the primary structure. The historic concrete walkways, driveways, and plazas surrounding the building are counted as a single contributing feature of the property and the metal picket fencing at the base of the tower is a non-contributing element of this feature.”
KMGH-TV or Scripps Media, Inc., has hired a public relations firm, called Sidecar PR, and CRL, the muscular lobbying firm, is already involved, and so is an attorney from Otten Johnson Robinson Neff + Ragonetti PC. That’s a lot of support for the station.
Meanwhile, the three men who opposed the demolition – two attorneys and an architect who like this building – will continue to promote the idea of adaptive re-use. They’ve said this from the beginning, because the octagonal tower is a fine example of Brutalism – which gets a bad rap. And that is unfortunate.
Then, this week the Denver Business Journal noted that Travis Leiker, president and executive director of CHUN (Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods), has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Property Markets Group, which is in the process of buying the land. Apparently, the memo “is an attempt to create a framework for shaping the future of the building and is more focused on what happens to it after the council’s vote, rather than the specifics of the decision.
“ ‘It’s about the future of the site,’ Leiker said. ‘On May 11, I want and CHUN wants a thoughtful dialogue that is productive, effective and focused on measurable outcomes.’
“The agreement between PMG [the firm that is purchasing the Denver7 land] and CHUN outlines a number of goals, such as trying to attract local small businesses to tenant spaces in any future developments at 123 Speer and conducting a traffic study. The memo also includes clauses to explore opportunities for reuse or preservation of the existing structure.”
But, there is more:
The YIMBY action network has come out to oppose the hostile designation:
“On May 10th Denver City Council will debate putting a hostile designation on the Denver Seven property at 123 Speer. This will stop the construction of additional housing near transit and adjacent to downtown.
“In order to face the housing crisis we have to allow our city to change and to build housing. Denver’s hostile designation requirements are incredibly lax. They allow any three residents to delay needed housing during a crisis for months or years, just by filing a piece of paper. There are no requirements to show how much ‘adaptive reuse’ may increase the cost of potential units, or to explain how a landmarked structure fits in to the urban fabric moving forward.”
When I hear “urban fabric,” I think that much of Denver’s urban fabric has been shredded, losing housing and apartment buildings and familiar buildings to be replaced with junk housing. Oh, and pushing people out of their neighborhoods because everything is so darned expensive. I understand there needs to be more housing in Denver, but affordable – or, really, attainable housing – is the province of developers. And there is nothing about “lax” when dealing with one of these designations.
On Monday, there will be a long line of people who will wish to speak: for and against for this “hostile” designation, a phrase that says it all. So much for trying to save a Brutalist building, which has been laughed at and called sub-par, when it doesn’t deserve it. Because of its importance, it’s this building’s time to shine.
Many links below.