Another homebuilder looking to redevelop a Denver corner lot is facing an owner-opposed landmark application — this time in Park Hill.
Three Denver residents are seeking to preserve the home at 4154 E. 17th Avenue Pkwy., which was purchased earlier this year by Thomas James Homes. The company wants to demolish the structure.
The fight resembles another battle currently underway in Cherry Creek, where a different builder wants to raze the onetime home of late architect Richard Crowther. But the Park Hill version has less to do with a former occupant and more to do with the orientation of what Thomas James wants to build.
“I’m not anti-density,” said Sarah Cowell. “I just want the city to preserve the parkway.”
Cowell lives next to the home; she and two other neighbors on the block are the ones that filed the landmark designation application. If approved, it would effectively prevent the structure at 4154 E. 17th Avenue Pkwy. from being demolished.
The home was constructed in the late 1920s for Robert P. and Louise Martin, according to a report written by city staff. Robert Martin owned a construction company called Martin & Martin with other family members.
Thomas James Homes purchased the 2,000-square-foot home on a 0.28-acre lot earlier this year for $1.48 million, records show. In August, the company applied for a demolition permit for the property.
The city posted notice of the demolition request at the property, and Cowell ultimately filed the landmark application in November.
An executive with Thomas James Homes declined to comment. But Cowell said the company has made clear it wants to demolish the home, split the relatively large corner lot into two parcels and build a home on each.
The issue, Cowell said, is that both of the homes would face the side street, not 17th Avenue Parkway — a stately street with a large wooded median that leads east from City Park.
“We’re very concerned about non-parkway-facing homes going on the parkway,” she said.
Cowell said she and her fellow co-applicants would like to see the home preserved. But if that isn’t feasible, she said, they’d like at least one of the new homes to face the parkway, as virtually all the homes along the street do.
Cowell said this isn’t just her preference — she feels it’s what the city has said it wants as well.
She points to a portion of municipal code that appears to mandate such orientation, although it seems to allow for exceptions. The code reads: “Every building shall either face the parkway or boulevard or one (1) of two (2) fronts shall face the parkway or boulevard; provided, however, where existing development or municipally approved platting contradicts the intent of this provision permits may be approved consistent with such existing development or platting.”
Cowell and Thomas James Homes have already gone through a city-mandated mediation process. Cowell said she proposed that the company renovate the existing structure and build a new home behind it, but was told the company didn’t consider that an option.
“We think that Denver should pause and take a beat,” Cowell said. “This is a very large lot on the corner.”
The landmark application is set to be considered by Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission on Dec. 20. The commission will vote on whether to send it to the Denver City Council.