A coffee house will be part of Welton Street, in a building that faced demolition. But now it has a new life.

2040 Welton Street IMG_3015

The photograph above shows a boarded-up home that looks really sad. After someone tried to burn it down, it was left to sit there for a few years. The home had been used as a homeless shelter for a while, and there were fears that it would need to be torn down. It has hung on in the midst of an amazing amount of redevelopment, and whenever I drive by, I really wonder about its future.  After all, 2420 Welton Street seems pretty humble.

That’s because the Rossonian – that much beloved and historic hotel – has been the big dog on Welton Street for many years (even though it seemed as if it were in limbo forever). That landmark is now being considered for a restoration; first is the demolition of the Rossonian’s annex, making space for a new hotel next to the Rossonian, and an office building next to the hotel. Both will be much taller than the Rossonian.

And that’s how the Five Points Cultural District works. It is a one-of-a-kind landmark district. The cultural district was first approved in 2002 as the Welton Street Commercial Corridor Cultural District, but the name was changed a few years ago. There are only nine contributing buildings in the district. Everything else is a non-contributing building. The boom-town look on Welton and other streets in Five Points exists because only a few properties are protected, and for a while, the land was less expensive, though that has changed.

The Five Points Design Guidelines, addressing residential buildings before 1964, offers some history: “Historically, the earliest development in the district was single-family residential homes. These buildings are principally located at each end of the district, with a higher concentration on the east end. These buildings help to tell the story of the district’s early residential character until it transformed into the commercial hub for the surrounding neighborhoods. These buildings are Non-Contributing in the district and do not add to the main street character. They may be converted into commercial uses or redeveloped.”

The home at 2420 Welton was built in 1895, and it will be renovated for a commercial use. It sits between a complex of very tall townhomes, and a similarly sized home that is quite beautiful.

After three meetings with the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission, things were finally worked out yesterday on the materials that could be used to restore windows on the second floor and a tripartite window and door on the first floor. The radius bricks around the upper floor windows give the building some personality. Some sort of material is covering up the bottom of the ground floor windows, which will be restored to their former look.

So, eventually, the boarded-up former shelter for homeless residents will be a place to buy a cup of coffee. Owner Elizabeth Williams and a representative from architecture firm 2WR + Partners have made several changes to their plans. After yesterday’s meeting, Williams said that she has a permit to put on a new roof, but there are other permitting issues on the horizon. She’s hoping it might be able to open in summer 2020.

Considering how so much of Denver has changed dramatically – including in Five Points – an historic home can be one little gift to the community. I’m not alone in feeling like we are losing a lot of Denver’s history, one building at a time.

The links below go to the most recent application submitted from the owner and the preservation staff’s comments. The third link leads to a story that The Denver Post ran in early 2016 about the fire in the homeless shelter on Welton Street.

https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/646/documents/landmark/lpc/agendas/2019/2420_Welton_St_App_12.17.2019.pdf

https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/646/documents/landmark/lpc/agendas/2019/2420_Welton_St_Alterations_StaffBrief_12.17.2019_ADA.pdf

Homeless shelter in Denver’s Five Points gutted by fire

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