Golden finalizing agreement to lease Astor House to Foothills Art Center

City council chooses gallery proposal over non-profit hub concept

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/16/20

The future of Golden’s historic Astor House appears ready to be decided as the Golden city council has indicated that it is close to finalizing a lease of the house to the Foothills Art Center, and …

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Golden finalizing agreement to lease Astor House to Foothills Art Center

City council chooses gallery proposal over non-profit hub concept

Posted

The future of Golden’s historic Astor House appears ready to be decided as the Golden city council has indicated that it is close to finalizing a lease of the house to the Foothills Art Center, and will likely do so in January.

On Dec. 10, the city council discussed the details of a document that would lease the house to the Foothills Art Center for a period of 30 years. Approval of that lease was recommended by Golden Economic Community and Economic Development Director Steve Glueck, who the council charged with leading the process of finding a tenant for the house that would utilize the house to benefit the community.

That process began in July after the city received two unsolicited proposals for use of the house, which has sat empty for eight years. Foothills Art Center’s proposal called for the structure to be turned into a flexible gallery and gathering space while the Golden Civic Foundation proposed to turn it into a flexible space that could include office space and other resources for Golden nonprofit organizations.

After a process in which the city asked for, but did not receive, other proposals, the city council reviewed the two proposals that were received and ultimately directed city staff to move forward with coming to terms on a lease with the Foothills Art Center.

30-year lease

Under the lease, to begin in 2021 and run for 30 years, the Foothills Art Center would have the rest of 2021 to make plans for how it will convert the house into the arts facility. Those changes would be reviewed by both the city council and historical commission, which will have the discretion to approve or deny all proposed alterations to the house.

According to the proposed lease, all improvements to the structure must comply with historic preservation standards outlined by the US Department of the Interior.

The proposed lease also outlines several deadlines that the Foothills Art Center will be expected to meet during 2021 in order for the project to continue. Construction will then be expected to start and finish during 2021.

“During the first year either side can terminate the lease with very little notice,” said Glueck. Once they start construction, the lease is more firm.”

Glueck said the lease would likely only be terminated by Foothills Art Center if it was having trouble meeting the milestones in the lease or securing funds to pay the improvements. The art center must secure 75% of the funding it will need, before starting improvement work.

The rent will be $150 in the second year of the lease and $1 a year afterward with no payments due in the first year. The city had sought an agreement that would allow the house to be leased out for a community purpose while the city kept ownership.

In addition to the lease, the city is also requiring that Foothills Art Center’s director sign a “right of first refusal” document, which would require that Foothills Art Center offer the city the same price and terms it would offer any other buyer in the event it wants to sell its existing historic properties at 822 15th Street Foothill’s current art gallery space) and 1510 Washington Avenue, a property known as the Unger House that is currently being leased to the Sherpa House.

Foothills Art Center has indicated that it plans to keep using its current gallery and sell the Unger House to Sherpa House, which plans to retain the historic structure.

“I love the idea of a right of first refusal,” said Councilman Rob Reed, who suggested the proposed agreement be change so that the right of first refusal is in place for the entire duration of the lease, rather than the 20 years currently in the document.

That change is one of a handful “nitpicky changes” the council agreed to make to the lease at Reed’s request before the council is set to approve it, on Jan. 12.

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