Final vote on owner-opposed Carmen Court landmark application set for Nov. 2

A sign on the Carmen Court property advocates against designating the building a city landmark. (BusinessDen file)

The owner-opposed landmark application for the Carmen Court condo complex got one step closer to a final decision on Tuesday, although hopes for a compromise haven’t entirely faded.

The Denver City Council’s Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee forwarded the application to the full body, where it is scheduled to be voted on Nov. 2.

The decision marked the end of a 45-day pause that was implemented in the hopes a compromise could be found during that time. However, no alternative buyer was found, as BusinessDen reported last week.

On Tuesday, however, Councilman Jolon Clark, who represents the district where Carmen Court sits, said “there are a lot of conversations and negotiations happening between the two parties right now.”

“The pause didn’t get us, I think, where people were hoping right now, but I think the two sides are looking to possibly get to some agreement before this hits the floor of council,” he told the committee.

Carmen Court is a 95-year-old structure at 900 E. 1st Ave. — just off Speer Boulevard — that consists of six condos. The owners are under contract to sell the property to Houston-based Hines, which wants to demolish the structure and build a five-story senior living complex.

When the potential for demolition became public, some nearby residents responded by asking the city to designate the structure a landmark.

Hines has said it doesn’t see a way to build the project it wants while preserving the Carmen Court building. In terms of a compromise, however, the company said that, if another buyer can be found that wants to preserve the structure while paying the same price that Hines has agreed to pay, the company will assign its contract to the new buyer and walk away.

Hines also wants to be reimbursed for the expenses it’s incurred, not counting staff time.

Local preservation nonprofit Historic Denver contacted 20 local and national development companies it believed might be interested, according to a mediator involved in the compromise efforts. Of those, six expressed enough interest to discuss price and other information consistent with the non‐disclosure agreement signed.

The landmark application has become contentious in recent months, with lawn signs supporting both sides sprouting up in the neighborhoods surrounding Carmen Court.

But how much of that public debate has reached City Hall? According to city staff, the following figures were current as of Oct. 8:

• Three local organizations are in support of the landmark application: Historic Denver, Historic Berkeley Regis and the West Washington Park Neighborhood Association.

  • • 159 individuals have submitted public comments: 51 in support and 108 in opposition.
  • • 20 individuals spoke at a meeting of the Landmark Preservation Commission in August: 16 in support and four in opposition.

None of the parties involved — the Carmen Court owners, Hines or the landmark applicants — spoke at the Tuesday committee meeting.

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