A Boulder college student has thrown a wrench into plans to redevelop the old Gates Rubber factory by seeking a permit to declare the site a historic landmark.
Eugene Elliott, a senior at the University of Colorado at Boulder, paid $250 to file the historic status claim with the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission, reported Westword magazine.
The claim slams the brakes on an almost decade long process of trying to redevelop the site, which is now covered in graffiti and is a popular site for so called urban explorers -- people who explore underground tunnels and abandoned industrial complexes.
The Gates Rubber factory once provided thousands of jobs -- was Denver's largest employer -- and spanned 25 square blocks.
When the company shifted operations in the 1980s, the factory was abandoned and has sat crumbling ever since.
City leaders, developers and neighborhood groups have tried to come up with a development plan that will revitalize the area. Gates took back control of the site in 2001 and has focused its redevelopment plan on demolishing the old factory, conducting an environmental cleanup and, eventually, building residential units and office space.
This summer, signs were put up on the fence surrounding the factory saying the owner was seeking a demolition permit.
Then, at the 11th hour, Elliott, 21, filed a claim with the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission to declare the factory a historic landmark that should be protected.
Westword reported Elliot wrote, "The former Gates Rubber Company is a huge piece of Colorado and more relevantly Denver history."
"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," Elliot said.
Elliot did not consult with Gates nor any members of the five neighborhood associates that have worked on the project.
His request has outraged city councilman Chriss Nevitt who called Elliot and tried to persuade him to withdraw the request.
In an email Nevitt wrote, "I had a long and polite, but ultimately fruitless, conversation with Mr. Elliott. He appeared to show no interest in the opinions of the neighborhoods that have been invested in this site for all these years, nor to show much concern for the economic importance of redevelopment of this keystone site for Denver... Ah, the blissful self-confidence of the young."
Elliot told the magazine he's not naïve and he feels that "these buildings have a strong importance in the community and that there's a strong case for trying to reuse them."
Denver's Landmark Preservation Commission has found Elliott's application valid and has scheduled a public hearing on the matter for Sept. 4.
If Elliot wins approval from the commission, the matter would go before the City Council, where Nevitt says it will almost certainly fail.
"He's young, maybe idealistic," Nevitt told the magazine. "It's not like we're trying to knock down a beautiful old building in the dead of night."
"Here's a company trying to do the right thing -- and someone living in Boulder can pay $250 and say you're all wrong," Nevitt said.
Read more at Westword.com
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