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Council approves Loretto Heights rezoning, rejects Denver7 building landmark designation

Common consumption applications to open in June
Downtown Denver
Posted at 9:12 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 07:17:17-04

DENVER — During Monday’s Denver City Council meeting, several big topics are on the agenda, including a bill for an ordinance approving a proposed Loretto Heights rezoning, a bill to make the Denver7 building at 123 Speer Boulevard a designated landmark and a resolution for e-scooters, among other agenda items.

Historical designation for 123 Speer Boulevard

One bill up for final consideration is for an ordinance to designate 123 East Speer Boulevard as a structure for preservation.

The Denver7 building at 123 Speer Boulevard has sparked a heated debate over whether the building, considered an example of what’s called brutalist architecture, should be saved under landmark status.

The company that owns Denver7, E.W. Scripps, is selling the building after 52 years and looking for a new home with more space. Dean Littleton, Denver7’s general manager, says the historical designation threatens the future of Denver7.

David Wise, a Denver architect, and two other Denver residents, Brad Cameron and Michael Henry, have filed an application to save the building under landmark status. The three say they believe this is an opportunity for Denver to preserve part of its past.

Council voted to reject landmark designation with 11 councilmembers voting against the ordinance. One councilmember, Candi CdeBaca, did not vote.

Loretto Heights

Council also heard a bill for final consideration for an ordinance approving rezoning to move forward with a proposed plan to redevelop Loretto Heights.

The former 72-acre school campus located at Federal Boulevard and Dartmouth Avenue was sold in July 2019 to a Denver-based developer, Westside Investment Partners.

The iconic building first opened its doors in 1891 as Loretto Heights Academy, run by Catholic nuns as a girl’s school for decades. The school transformed into Teikyo Loretto Heights University and switched names to Colorado Heights University before closing its doors after the 2017 fall semester.

Denver City Council spent months gathering community input, coming up with a plan to turn the area into a mixed-use development with commercial and residential space, including affordable housing. Westside Investment partners plans to preserve the history of the campus, including the original bell tower and the cemetery where 62 nuns are buried.

Council voted to approve rezoning with 11 councilmembers in favor. CdeBaca, again, did not vote.

Lyft and Lime scooters in Denver

Two resolutions were up for approval for proposed license agreements between the City and County of Denver and Lyft Bikes and Scooters and Neutron Holdings Inc., which owns Limebike.

Following a bidding process for the operation of the scooter and bike share services in the city, Denver’s Department of Transportation & Infrastructure (DOTI) moved forward with licensing agreements for Lyft and Lime through the Denver City Council approval process.

Currently, dockless electric scooter and bike companies operate through a permit in Denver, but the license lays out operation plans that the city says are "most beneficial to Denver's residents and visitors."

Both companies would serve as partners to the city to help further the goals of Denver's Mobility Action Plan. The licenses will be valid for five years. This comes after Denver Public Works previously told Lime and Bird to cease operations in 2018.

City Council voted 8-4 for Lyft and 9-3 for Lime in favor of adopting both resolutions.

Common consumption

Another bill up for final consideration would amend the effective date of the entertainment district and common consumption area chapter of the Denver Revised Municipal Code.

The city passed the common consumption ordinance in late 2019, which would allow people to consume alcohol from a group of businesses, bars or restaurants who are licensed together within a short distance of the establishments.

The plan was put on hold for a full year during the pandemic, but on April 15, 2021, the Department of Excise and Licenses adopted final agency rules governing common consumption areas.

The city’s plan is currently for a five-year pilot program, which would be revisited. More details on common consumption areas can be found here.

Cities like Aurora, Fort Collins, Englewood, Central City and Greeley have taken similar steps to allow common consumption in certain areas or during certain events.

The council unanimously passed the measure in a block vote.