Gates Rubber factory historic designation try prompts city council to act -- but not raise fee
Update: Denver City Council made some history last night when it approved changes to the city's landmark ordinance. Today, the Department of Community Planning and Development Community Planning and Development finished the job by raising the landmark application fee from $250 to $875.
Based on an evaluation of non-owner applications in recent years, the CPD determined that staff costs for processing those applications fall between $400 and $1,500, and that most cost less than $1,000.
Last summer, a University of Colorado student filed a non-owner application in an attempt to stymie the redevelopment of the old Gates Rubber factory by having the remaining buildings declared a landmark.
Keep reading for the rest of the original post.
As Alan Prendergast reported in his August 16 cover story, "Trouble in the Rubble," Eugene Elliott first saw the desolate Gates complex while driving through Denver several years ago. "I don't think I'd ever seen a building so big," he said. "Or so dilapidated, for that matter. It made me curious about what it used to be and why it's still there."
Curious enough that he did some research. And earlier this year, he learned that Gates was planning to raze the remaining buildings on the site, including the manufacturing plant itself. A sign posted on the fence around the complex noted that the owner had applied for a demolition permit, and that the property might be eligible for landmark status -- and anyone seeking such designation needed to file an application with the city within 21 days. An application, and $250.
At the last minute, Elliot came up with the cash and presented the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission with a plea to grant landmark status to the three oldest remaining structures: the manufacturing plant, known as Unit 10, plus the power plant and warehouse to the north of it. "The former Gates Rubber Company is a huge piece of Colorado and more relevantly Denver history," Elliott wrote. "By not accepting the landmark-designation application, the owner will proceed to demolish the last remaining physical reminder of what Gates Rubber Company did and was for this city and its citizens."
The application came as a surprise to both the city and the owner of the property, which has been closed since 1996 and was the subject of grand plans for a new urbanism development -- plans stalled by bad economic times. So bad, in fact, that Gates had wound up taking the property back from the developer. And just when Gates was getting the project back on track -- with the blessing of relieved neighbors -- Elliott put up another roadblock. And it cost him just $250 to do so.
You could hear the howls across the city. Ultimately, the landmark commission decided that the Gates buildings did not qualify for landmark protection. But that did not put the matter to rest. The city had already been taking a long look at its landmark policies, and the result was the measure that Denver City Council approved last night. But despite early outrage over the relative pittance Elliott paid to file his protest, the $250 application fee has not been raised. Not yet, at least.
Continue for the details of the ordinance changes.