Will a mortuary get a new life?

1 Olinger Screen Shot 2019-07-11 at 10.45.40 AM

Let’s just say it’s getting something like a reprieve for now.

Earlier this week, the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission approved a second “pause” to extend discussions between the owner of the Olinger Moore Howard – Berkeley Park Funeral Chapel, and the people who want to save the mortuary by supporting an owner-opposed designation.

There already had been one extension for more talk, through November 18, but the parties involved asked for another, through January 31, 2020.  The owner of the mortuary and Koelbel & Co. want to redevelop the land, scraping the 1960s building and replacing it with townhomes.  The discussions are confidential involving the owner, the developer, and the preservation advocates.

Neighborhood organizations and preservation supporters have suggested other ways to reuse the building at 4345 West 46th Avenue because of its architectural importance. The mortuary, designed by the well-respected architect, J. Roger Musick, is significant to the neighborhood.

Denver’s City Council had planned a public hearing Tuesday night on Nov. 12 to address the first extension, and whether the mortuary should be designated a landmark.  (Monday is a federal holiday, so the city council meeting is moved to Tuesday.)

But instead, this is what the council meeting agenda notes:

“… it is Council’s intent to postpone final consideration of Council Bill 19-0913, with its public hearing, to Tuesday, January 21, 2020. If you are wishing to speak on this matter, we apologize for any inconvenience and ask that you return on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.”  That gives a 10-day breather before the second extension comes to an end.

As of November 1, the city’s updated landmark ordinance includes a “pause,” so that during owner-opposed applications moving through the system, there is more time for the owner and the applicants to talk things through to find a solution, rather than rush to justice.

It has been a year of neighborhoods fighting for older buildings on the chopping block to be replaced by something many of the neighbors do not want; there was Bonnie Brae Tavern, Tom’s Diner, the Park Hill Farmhouse… and the mortuary, and more will come.  But perhaps the discussions can be a little less toxic.

Below are links to this coming City Council meeting’s agenda, and the information from the landmark commission meeting this past Tuesday.

https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/695/2019/agendas-2019/Agenda_11-12-19.pdf

https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/646/documents/landmark/lpc/agendas/2019/4345_West_46th_Ave_SB.TimeLimitExtension_Staff_Report_LPC_Nov5_2019_ADA.pdf

https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/646/documents/landmark/lpc/agendas/2019/4345_West_46th_Ave_APP.TimeLimitExtension_Request_LPC_Nov5_2019.pdf

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