Residents of a 10-story Lincoln Park apartment building went without elevators for a week during the heat wave

It’s the latest complex in Denver where residents are speaking out about poor conditions.
5 min. read
A silhouetted man looks up as he climbs a staircase.
Nathan Cummings walks up a stairway in The Lincoln at Speer apartments, where he lives, that he’s had to use a lot lately since the building’s elevators have been on the fritz. June 27, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

A 10-story apartment building in Lincoln Park went approximately a week without any elevator access, including during Denver’s 100-degree day earlier this week.

For residents of 1200 Galapago St., some of whom are older or have disabilities, their only option was to take the stairs — sometimes up 10 floors. 

And for a portion of one day, the doors in the stairwell exiting into apartment hallways were locked, blocking residents from reaching their homes.

“We could not access our units, so if your dog was upstairs, if your child was upstairs, if your medicine was upstairs, no access,” said Nathan Cummings, a resident at the complex called The Lincoln on Speer. “They had no plans.”

After about a week, one of the building’s three elevators started working Thursday morning.

A view looking up at a towering apartment building, complete with stacked terraces and big numbers that read "1200."
The Lincoln at Speer apartments in La Alma/Lincoln Park. June 27, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The scene at 1200 Galapago on Thursday mirrors other big apartment complexes across the city run by large management companies where residents have complained about conditions

Large rocks pile up next to doors so residents can prop them open when door handles break. Lights lining the hallway are shattered, and broken garages lead to car thefts and elevator service is spotty. 

When residents complain to management, they are meant to feel like the issue is isolated — until they start talking to neighbors.

“This is a 10-story, very diverse building, nobody really talks,” he said. “All of a sudden we're all having to share one elevator, and the horror stories started getting told.”

A man in a grey shirt and slacks stands in front of a brushed-metal elevator door. He looks frustrated.
Nathan Cummings describes his frustration with long-broken elevators in The Lincoln at Speer, where he lives in La Alma/Lincoln Park. June 27, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Cummings pays about $1,200 for a one-bedroom in a building with broken doors and elevators.

He has asthma and is developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. 

Cummings lives on the fourth floor and said he had to call 911 after struggling to breathe in the heat without elevator access this past week.

“I've had numerous medical emergencies,” he said. “I keep seeing my life flash before my eyes.”

One of the three elevators has been broken for a long time, Cummings said, while another was fixed twice just to break again. He’s heard stories from fellow tenants getting stuck in the elevators regularly. 

“It would take 20 to 30 minutes to get access to my unit, if that, and it's very hot in there, and when you're breathing shutting down, it was scary,” he said.

Until recently, tenants needed to grasp onto a screw to open one of the main doors until the handle got fixed. The supposedly secure doors to the parking garage never close or lock, and Cummings said that car thefts have been a problem.

“People are just, we're exhausted,” he said.

A door handle that looks like it doesn't quite belong on this door.
A door handle that recently replaced a single screw that residents of The Lincoln at Speer apartments were using to get inside for a while. June 27, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Denverite has reached out to the management company, The Lincoln at Speer, and its parent company, New York-based Urban American, for comment.

In an email provided by Cummings, the Lincoln at Speer staff cited “severe delays in manufacturing” as preventing repairs, and said that the elevators were not built to sustain temperatures over 90 degrees.

"We have been experiencing intermittent service issues with several of the elevators at The Lincoln at Speer over the last week, a situation exacerbated by the extreme weather conditions," said a spokesperson for the Lincoln at Speer in a message to Denverite. "We immediately called our elevator company and placed an expedited order for needed replacement parts to be delivered. We will continue to work closely with the mechanics until we can get the situation rectified. Tenant safety is our number one priority. We appreciate everyone's patience as we work expeditiously to fix the problem."

A man in a grey shirt and slacks stands in a turquoise stairwell, speaking with obvious frustration.
Nathan Cummings describes his frustration with long-broken elevators in The Lincoln at Speer, where he lives in La Alma/Lincoln Park. He's had to use the stairs a lot lately. June 27, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Residents of the Lincoln at Speer are the latest tenants in Denver paying rent to live in a building that lacks crucial amenities. 

Earlier this year a judge certified class action status for potentially thousands of tenants of Mint Urban Infinity in Virginia Village after tenants filed suit over broken doors and elevators and other habitability issues. 

At Bell Cherry Hills just over the border in Englewood, one resident started documenting overflowing trash, broken doors and fire hazards.

Cummings attributes conditions to the high cost of housing, where many people have few options to move elsewhere.

“The crisis of affordable housing is permitting these companies to buy these properties and lure people in and get away with not taking care of them,” he said.

Editor's note: This article was updated with a statement from the Lincoln at Speer management.

An enormous fluffy dog stares out of a sliding patio door, looking right at a camera with a curious expression.
Captain, Nathan Cummings' dog, looks onto the patio of their shared apartment in The Lincoln at Speer apartments. June 27, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

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