The city of Denver is moving forward with a plan to purchase the site of a former strip club on East Colfax. A $1.3 million purchase and sale agreement was approved Tuesday by the Denver City Council’s finance committee.
Denverite first reported on the purchase last week. The half-acre at 8315 E. Colfax Ave. has been home to strip clubs under the Saturday’s and PT’s brands, though it’s been vacant since winter. A man was murdered outside the building in 2015, the Denver Post reported.
Denver plans to fund the purchase with federal housing funds, and the “final development will lead to a catalytic redevelopment,” likely including affordable housing, according to city staff. At least 51 percent of the units on the land will be meant for people with low and moderate incomes.
Staffers also have heard strong neighborhood demand for ground-floor retail on the site.
The final purchase of 8315 E. Colfax Ave. is expected to happen this fall, after which the city would put out a call for developers. The city also bought 7900 E. Colfax Ave. earlier this year for $650,000, as Adrian previously reported, and it’s expected to be used for similar purposes.
PT’s still holds a lease on the strip club land, but that will be terminated and the building likely demolished, according to city staff.
“I’m so excited about this purchase,” said Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman. She also asked whether there was any possibility of saving and repurposing some elements of the club’s distinctive sign.
Councilwoman Deborah Ortega pointed out that the purchase wasn’t part of the city’s larger, pre-established plans. Developers seem plenty interested in buying and redeveloping land on their own, she said.
“There’s no doubt the East Colfax corridor could use some additional investment and redevelopment,” Ortega added.
Councilman Rafael Espinoza said that he would prefer to be involved earlier in these kinds of purchase decisions, describing the proposal as “cherry-picking,” though he conceded that the East Colfax purchases seem wise. He also wants the city to explore the purchase of Golden Manor, an assisted living facility on West Colfax, he said.
Councilman Chris Herndon, whose district is home to the former club, has been a key factor in driving the purchase. Councilman Kevin Flynn said he was a bit “jealous” of the purchase, considering that the city has passed up other opportunities in other districts.
Susman said that the purchase would be part of an effort to “get ahead” of gentrification, setting aside land for community purposes before it gets more expensive, and city staff agreed.
“There is likely to be increased redevelopment pressure,” said Julie Stern of the Office of Economic Development. “If we can get in and acquire land now for community-serving uses, we have an opportunity today to get ahead of some of those pressures.”
Councilwoman Robin Kniech urged staff to take their time and involve the community in figuring out what’s next for the strip club.
“I don’t think the purpose of the disposition of this site should be motivated by profit,” she said. “The community outcomes should be more important than the profit and the sale of land.”
Councilman Wayne New said that profit should still be kept in mind.
The committee also asked whether the city would consider buying any of the motels on East Colfax. Staff confirmed the city is looking at the possibility.
“It’s a conversation that is ongoing. I know there’s more to work out there than might meet the eye,” Stern said, “but it’s not something that we’ve dropped.”
Jeff Steinberg, city director of real estate, said that motels in the past have been reticent to sell because they’re bringing in a lot of off-the-books cash revenue.
Now, the city has a chance to reshape part of the avenue.
“It was such a catalyst to a lot of negative activity,” he expalined. The committee approved the proposed purchase 4-0, and the decision now heads to the full council.