Street wise: Council debates downtown Denver

By on April 27, 2016

The future of part of Denver’s Main Street was a key topic of discussion at the April 25 borough council.

Denver Mayor Rod Redcay asked council for financial and/or emotional support in his organization’s efforts to buy “The Denver House” at 240 Main St.

Redcay, founder of REAL Life Community Services, hopes to make the space a hub for social services which will include 12 affordable apartments, professional counselors, and other services.

“I think it’s the wrong place to be putting something like that,” said Councilman Michael Gensemer. “It’s not what has been envisioned for downtown.”

“It would help a lot of needy people,” responded Redcay.

Council President Blake Daub suggested that any improvement to the space would be better than what it is.

Gensemer quoted Ronald Reagan about not settling for crumbs. He hopes the building could be used for a restaurant or corner bar to “bring back Denver to the way it was 40 years ago when it was in its glory.”

Gensemer suggested that replacing “poor needy people in the building now with different poor needy people” who are supervised by Redcay’s organization is not council’s goal.

Councilman Todd Stewart had mixed feelings and didn’t want to say ‘no’ because it’s “not exactly what we had in mind.”

“We may never get what we have in mind,” said Stewart. “Is incremental improvements good enough? The question I have, ‘is this incremental improvements’? If it’s only a very small improvement, then it’s probably not worth the effort, but they’re going to fix up the building-that’s improvement that’s better than we have today.”

Gensemer asked if Redcay could have apartments upstairs and a restaurant or brewery downstairs.

“That probably could be done, but my board would not be in favor of that,” said Redcay. “But there is a need for the services we’re offering, especially a hub that will connect families in need to the areas social services provides.”

The building will be going in to sheriff’s sale on July 27 and Redcay asked council for support for the “acquisition of the property and the renovations of it.”

“It will be given to the highest bidder,” Redcay said.

In other news, council focused on the aesthetic appeal of Denver and discussed having a possible stricter property maintenance code and/or zoning ordinance violations on various properties in the borough.

“Who’s going to put a nice restaurant in the Old Denver House when you’ve got that row of houses in the 200 block of Main Street?” asked Gensemer. “We’re not asking people to spend money on their property, we’re asking them to clean them up — get the things off the porches, get the cars off the grass. Make it look like a respectable town that people want to move into. I understand individual rights, but when you move into a town, there are certain expectations.”

As of now, the borough follows a standard property maintenance code with a few minor changes.

“We’re sliding and we need to stop the slide,” Gensemer said. “I couldn’t believe when I came on council that grass can be 10 inches high before it’s in violation of our ordinance. That’s incredible.”

Council members said they are considering being more aggressive, especially with “repeat offenders” with this issue and that an indoor sofa sitting on a porch for “decoration” may be deemed as an unsightly, moldy health hazard in the near future.

Michele Walter Fry welcomes your comments at michelewalterfry@gmail.com.

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