DENVER (CBS4) – Denver City Council approved changes to the city’s landmark preservation process on Monday night. Anyone can currently apply to get a building historic status, even if it’s against the owner’s wishes.
That’s exactly what happened to the owner of Tom’s Diner. When community members found out he wanted to sell the place to a developer, they applied for landmark designation. Ultimately, they ended up withdrawing the application but it ignited a debate about property rights.
While the city officials say only a small portion of designation applications are owner-opposed, it was something they wanted to address.
For nearly a year, even before the diner controversy, the city’s Community Planning and Development Department put together a task force to work on changes.
“It was intentionally put together to include those who are supportive of preservation, those who are not supportive of preservation and those who are neutral,” Denver planning manager Kara Hahn said to the council on Monday night.
After a year’s work, those changes include simplifying criteria, adding cultural significance to the consideration process and in an effort to limit conflict between property owners and neighbors added a required mediation.
Mark Bowman, a representative for Denver realtors, was on the task force and, while supportive of the changes in place, he says they don’t go far enough.
“We would like to see additional provisions for property owners facing unwanted landmark designations,” he told council.
Other members of the task force like Carla McConnell felt the proposal and the changes were right where they needed to be.
“These proposed updates ensure that we can continue to preserve places that tell Denver’s story while attracting investment and meeting community needs,” she said.