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Fate of century-old City Park West house in hands of city council after debate over landmark status

Historic Denver is working to save 1741 Gaylord St. from demolition, while a developer is planning for workforce housing units.
Posted at 9:31 PM, Mar 29, 2023

DENVER — The Denver City Council will have the final say on what will happen to a potentially historic home in Denver's City Park West neighborhood.

1741 North Gaylord Street was built in the early 1900's.

"It was designed and built by the architects of Denver Union Station, had a lot of prominent people live in it and own it over the years, including one of the founders of Children's Hospital," said Andrea Burns, the interim president of Historic Denver.

The current owner, Michael Mathieson, bought the house in October 2021 after beginning a separate housing project next door. He plans build apartments on the lot.

"We are planning on doing 37 [units] of workforce housing. Workforce housing is between 80 and 120 [area median income.] So that's for people that work at East High School or the Karla Madison Rec Center, or manage a restaurant or a nurse at the hospital," said Mathieson.

According to 2022 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) data, 80% AMI would be around $62,600 for a one-person household and $80,500 for a three-person household in Denver County. In comparison, 120% AMI is listed as $98,520 for one person and $126,600 for a three person household.

When some neighbors found out the house was going to be demolished, they filed an application the make the home a historic landmark.

"It's too important. It's too beautiful. And it's got such a deep history. It's been here for 120 years, and we think it's got 120 years left in it," said Burns.

Inside the house, Mathieson describes many areas as outdated, unsafe, and in need of intense repairs and renovations.

"They're acting like there's a lot of land. It's very limited in nature, you can't build right up next to the house. You can build maybe four to six units, then you spend $2 million. There's no bank in the world that would finance it," said Mathieson.

He questions the historical significance of the building, pointing to a 2019 survey done by Historic Denver that did not list the house in a "Historic Landmark District" or "Area of Significance." The local evaluation lists the address as "ND," meaning "more data is needed to evaluate this property's eligibility for listing in the National Register."

"I think it's a property rights issue. You're going to take people's property rights on the whim of a couple of neighbors that have nothing to do with the property and have never identified the property before," said Mathieson.

Historic Denver acknowledges the property was not specifically evaluated as "historic" at that time, but said there's always an opportunity to learn more about a building and uncover new historical significance — something they said they did once alerted by neighbors about the proposed demolition.

"When we learned that this building might be demolished, and we heard from the neighbors and the local city, Park West community, they were really the ones that said, 'We can't lose this building,'" said Burns, who added they have uncovered enough criteria to designate the building as historic.

Denver City Council will accept public comment at their April 24 meeting, which is when they'll decided whether or not the building should be demolished and redeveloped or designated as a landmark. Click here to join the hearing and share your input virtually.

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