The city will not consider a request to provide historic status for a portion of the former Beth Eden Baptist Church that RedPeak Properties plans to raze to make way for a five-story, luxury apartment building.
A group called Friends of West Highland Landmarks attempted to have a portion of church building on Lowell Boulevard given historic status by the Landmark Preservation Commission.
RedPeak plans to incorporate the main part of the church into the community, but would raze a portion of the building that was added after the main church was built.
The portion of the building that RedPeak plans to demolish to make-way for a five-story apartment building received a “Certificate of Non-Historic Status,” in March 2008 from the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission.
“The Certificate of Non-Historic Status provides certainty in a demolition process,” Savannah Jameson, a senior city planner for Landmark Preservation in Denver’s Community Planning & Development told InsideRealEstateNews last Friday, in response to a request of the status of the Friends of West Highland Landmark’s request by InsideRealEstateNews.
“Non-historic status means the building does not meet the criteria for local designation,” Jameson said. She said that the non-historic status allows a demolition application to be processed “without further review by Landmark Preservation for a period of five years.”
That means the earliest the Landmark Preservation request would consider historic status for the structures, which would make them more difficult to demolish, would be on March 7, 2013, the five-year anniversary of the non-historic status, Jameson said.
RedPeak plans to start construction of three apartment buildings this year, possibly as early as spring. The other two sites are on Meade Street and West Moncrieff Place, just north of West 32nd Avenue.
Today, Jameson sent InsideRealEstateNews a copy of a letter that she sent to the group. The letter is below:
Friends of West Highland Landmarks,
Thank you for the designation application for 3241 Lowell Boulevard. After careful review of the application it was found to include properties that have been issued a Certificate of Non-historic Status.The Certificate was issued on March 7, 2008. Per Chapter 30 of the Revised Municipal code a designation can not be brought forward for a property that has been issued a Certificate of Non-historic status without owner consent.
Sec. 30-6(1)(c) Said certificate shall prevent an application for designation going forward without the owner’s consent for a period of five (5) years from the date of issuance, and for said five (5) year period will allow an application for demolition to be processed without further review as to the structure’s potential designation.
The process for a Certificate of Non-historic Status includes research to determine whether the building has potential for landmark designation. If the building does not meet the criteria for designation the Certificate of Non-historic Status is issued. If the property has potential for designation then the property is posted for 21 days.
Again, thank you for your interest and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
As the application cannot be processed therefore the application fee will be returned to you by mail early next week.
Senior City Planner
The Friends of West Highland Landmarks argued that “insufficient information” was considered in granting the non-historic status in 2008 and said that the required public notice was not given at that time.
“Our review of readily available public records provided a great deal more information bout these buildings than is contained in the application for non-historic status,” according to the group.
“Had this information been known, staff may not have concluded that some of the parcels had no historic significance,” it said in a letter to the Landmark Preservation Commission and to Tom Wootten, who headed an investment group that purchased the land in 2007 from Redeemer Temple. “These buildings are located in the heart of, and contribute significantly to the character of our neighborhood. We feel they should not be demolished without a more thorough review, and wanted you to be aware that we are taking this report.”
An official from the opposition to the new 147-unit apartment buildings did not immediately return a call. Officials from RedPeak Properties declined to comment.
Meanwhile, there has been some public confusion to what Wooten’s investment group paid for the parcel.
Earlier, Betty Luce, a real estate broker with Nostalgic Homes, posted a blog that said Wootten’s group had paid $6,563,800 for the three parcels on Lowell, Meade Street and West Moncrieff Place.
She said public records show that the three parcels total 53,680 square feet and the sale price equates to $122 per square foot.
However, the Denver assessor office records show the three sites have a total of 62,500 square feet. InsideRealEstateNews has obtained copies of the special warranty deeds for the purchase of the three parcels. The deeds, recorded on Oct. 22, 2007, show that Wootten’s group paid a total of $3.75 million for the land, which equates to $60 per square foot.
On a related matter, InsideRealEstateNews several weeks ago left a message with the Redeemer Temple church, which sold the parcels to Wooten, with four specific questions:
- Exactly how much money did it receive from the sale?
- Were the proceeds used solely for a replacement church building, or was some of the money used for programs or charity?
- What do church leaders think of the current neighborhood protests that claim the proposed buildings are too big for the area and would increase traffic, congestion and make parking even more difficult?
- Did the church ever contemplate changing the previous zoning of R-4 that allowed up to 75-foot tall buildings on each of the parcels and does it believe in retrospect that it made an error in not voluntarily downzoning the zoning that had been in place for decades?
A church spokeswoman responded that the officials from Redeemer Temple are “too busy” to address the questions.
When told that InsideRealEstateNews would be welcome an opportunity to talk about these issues when church officials were less hectic, she said would pass along that information. That was more than a week ago.
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