Denver City Council may consider an owner-opposed landmark designation in the Speer neighborhood

The city’s land use committee forwarded the landmark application to the full council, though a resolution between everyone involved may be reached before a vote.
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900 E. 1st Street in Denver’s Speer neighborhood. Aug. 18, 2020.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The city's land use committee on Tuesday voted unanimously to forward an owner-opposed landmark application for the Carmen Court condos to the full council, doing so with the knowledge that everyone involved could come up with a compromise that could resolve the application before council gets to actually vote later this month.

The city's Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted to forward the landmark application for the 95-year-old adobe complex at 900 East 1st Ave. after months of meetings, providing more time for everyone involved to find a resolution and including a third-party facilitator to figure out a compromise.

Condo owners are interested in selling their Speer neighborhood condos to a developer who wants to turn the site into a senior living community. But some people want to preserve the properties with a landmark designation, which would put serious limitations on what can happen on the property, including knocking down the buildings.

Principal city planner Kara Hahn said on Tuesday the landmark applicants and the property owners have not come up with a comprise, though discussions are ongoing. Councilman Jolon Clark, who is not a voting member of the committee but whose district included the condos, said the two sides are trying to come up with an agreement before the application hits the council floor.

"I think we need to give them a little bit more room, between now and when it hits the floor, to see if they can work out the kinks with what they're talking about right now," Clark said.

No condo owners or landmark applicants spoke during Tuesday's meeting.

Landmark applicants, the people who want to preserve the buildings, have until Oct. 22 to withdraw the application and avoid the full city council process. Right now, Hahn said the landmark application would have its first reading during City Council's meeting on Oct. 26. and a second reading on Nov. 2.

A landmark designation would not prevent owners from selling. But it would place limitations on what could happen to the property, which the developer interested in buying has said in previous meetings would make it far less viable for their plans.

A spokesperson for the city's planning department said in August the city council has only ever approved one owner-opposed landmark designation, in 2014 for the Beth Eden Baptist Church at 3241 Lowell Blvd.

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