Future of Astor House will remain unknown for another year

No city question on house’s future on this year’s ballot

Posted 8/13/19

The future of the historic Astor House in downtown Golden will remain undetermined for the time being. Golden City Council on Aug. 8 decided to postpone going to the voters with an Astor House ballot …

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Future of Astor House will remain unknown for another year

No city question on house’s future on this year’s ballot

Posted

The future of the historic Astor House in downtown Golden will remain undetermined for the time being.

Golden City Council on Aug. 8 decided to postpone going to the voters with an Astor House ballot question until 2020. This was determined by a 5-to-1 vote. Councilmember Saoirse Charis-Graves was absent and councilmember Laura Weinberg provided the no vote.

Weinberg said she voted no because she favored asking voters to decide on Astor House’s future during the 2019 general election, and not wait for another year while the Astor House sits empty.

“We know what the voters wanted in 1972. We don’t know what they want today,” she said. “I’m in favor of getting more public input through the ballot,” Wienberg said. “Here’s an opportunity to go to every resident in Golden and ask the question.”

In 1972, Golden residents voted to save the Astor House, 822 12th St., from demolition, and that year, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The city purchased the Astor House for $31,488, restored it and opened it to the public as an historic house museum. It operated as such until it closed in 2015 to undergo a major rehabilitation and preservation project, which cost approximately $500,000. The Astor House has been empty since.

On Sept. 24, 2018, the city issued a public Request For Proposals, which is a formal solicitation for ideas, to help determine the future use of the Astor House. Five proposals came in and a special committee reviewed them.

The five proposals were presented to the review committee on Feb. 11. Following discussions by the committee and city council in February and March, the authors of the five proposals were invited to resubmit with additional details and revisions by May 20.

Two proposals were resubmitted, and on June 13, city council decided to move forward with one that’s being called the Foster proposal, which has partnered with the initial Astor Yard proposal. The combined proposal was reviewed by city boards and commissions through June and the beginning of July.

The Foster proposal is presented by Regan and Libby Foster, owners of The Dove Inn, 711 14th St., a mid-1800s home they renovated and turned into a modern bed and breakfast. Their proposal for the Astor House envisions a juice-and-snack bar and health facility on the first floor that would double as a community area at night. The second floor would host a micro hotel/modern hostel. For the park area behind the building, the Astor Yard proposal envisions constructing an additional building to provide a public space featuring indoor and outdoor elements that boast a commercial kitchen for food vending and a second-floor patio for dining, gathering and events/programs.

City council held another discussion on the Astor House on July 11 and ultimately decided that more discussions needed to take place before any determination was made on the Foster proposal.

Though there was no designated public hearing for the Astor House on Aug. 8, a number of community members addressed city council with their concerns during the general public comment portion of that meeting.

Suzanne Stutzman, chair of Golden’s Historic Preservation Board, told city council that the boardmembers did not think a question concerning a proposal for the Astor House was ready for the ballot. She also pointed out a few tasks the board would like to have done before any question about the Astor House goes to the voters. A few of these included a proper appraisal of the property, an historic designation through the city and “meaningful public involvement” as well as more consultation with the Historic Preservation Board throughout the process.

“It belongs to the citizens of Golden. It’s centrally located and very highly valued by the public,” Stutzman said about the Astor House. “We want to move this forward. We don’t like the vacant building. We want to see it vibrantly used by the community.”

Councilmember Rob Reed said he thinks it’s important to value the input provided by the Historic Preservation Board and the Golden Landmarks Association.

“I’m not in a rush to make a bad decision,” he said. “I would rather take our time and make a good decision.”

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