Denver7’s brutalist building on Speer won’t become a city landmark
City Council rejected an application from residents who believed the building had both historic and architectural value.
It looks like the end of the road for the imposing building on Lincoln and Speer.
City Council on Monday rejected an application to turn the giant TV broadcast building at 123 Speer Blvd. into a local landmark, siding with its owners and members of the public who didn’t think the building merited this status.
At least one person who testified during Monday’s meeting went so far as it to call the building “a wart,” even as city preservation staff noted how the building was one of the few examples of brutalism in Denver.
After a nearly two-hour public hearing, council members voted unanimously against the designation.
Councilmember Chris Hinds, whose district includes the building, urged his colleagues to vote no. But he also implored incoming developers not to build another “massive, undistinguished luxury development.”
“We already have enough of them,” Hinds said.
The landmark application was opposed by the building’s owner, Scripps Media, which owns Denver7 (KMGH), the local ABC affiliate. Denver7 general manager Dean Littleton said Monday that council’s decision would “forever impact the future of their business.” He said staff at the news station need a better place to work. The company is under contract to sell the building to PMG.
“Please give me the opportunity to finish what we’ve started,” Littleton said. “Give our 200 local journalists and staff the facility they need to better serve the people of Denver.”
A majority of the roughly 40 people who signed up to speak during the public hearing on Monday night opposed the designation. Council President Stacie Gilmore said council had received 51 written comments, with 46 submitted in opposition of the application.
Last year, the building’s owner filed for a certificate to explore a potential demolition. The building was under contract to be sold, and the potential new owners are reportedly interested in knocking down the building, replacing it with something “useful.” A landmark designation would make it incredibly difficult to demolish the building.
Applying for the certificate triggered a process that involves the city’s Landmark Preservation office researching the building’s history. After the research was done, city staff found the building had the potential to be a city landmark because of its architecture, history and connection to the neighborhood, among other factors.
Three city residents needed to submit an application to formally get the landmark designation — in this case, against the owner’s wishes — which happened earlier this year. The three residents submitted their application after meeting with the building’s owners over Zoom to try and talk about the property and come to a compromise.
Bradley Cameron, one of the people who applied for the designation, said it would be a shame to demolish the building. He said he and other applicants tried to find common ground with the owners, but they had no luck. He said the application was filed to try to find a win-win situation.
Council has only once approved a landmark, the Beth-Eden Baptist Church building in West Highland in 2014, when an owner opposed the designation.