Golden seeks proposals for use of Astor House

City says it will prioritize public good, seek to retain ownership of historic house

Paul Albani-Burgio
palbaniburgio@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/28/20

One year after the city of Golden declined to proceed with one potential plan for the historic Astor House, the city is set to officially start a new process that will aim to determine a new future. …

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Golden seeks proposals for use of Astor House

City says it will prioritize public good, seek to retain ownership of historic house

Posted

One year after the city of Golden declined to proceed with one potential plan for the historic Astor House, the city is set to officially start a new process that will aim to determine a new future.

On July 23, the Golden City Council directed city staff to move forward with opening up a new process to accept new proposals for uses of the historic property with applications to be accepted through Sept. 14.

The council also formally established the criteria it will use to evaluate those proposals. Those criteria will include the degree to which the proposal achieves community goals for the Astor House, which include the preservation of the exterior architecture of the building and that any future use of the building is determined to benefit the overall community through public access and/or programming.

The criteria also calls for any lessee to take over maintenance of the Astor House while the city would continue to maintain ownership.

According to the established criteria, the city will also only consider proposals by businesses and nonprofit organizations with a “proven track record of dedication and service to the community.

Golden Community and Economic Director Steve Glueck said city staff sought out this direction from the council with moving forward with developing criteria for a review process after receiving two serious unsolicited proposals for future uses of the Astor House.

Two unsolicited proposals

One of those proposals came from the Foothills Art Center while the other was submitted by the Golden Civic Foundation. Both organizations will now have the opportunity to submit a formal proposal in response to the new criteria.

“The gist of the proposal is a vibrant community hub that includes shared space for the Golden Civic Foundation and other nonprofits so they can have affordable office space and event training space as well as it being available for community programming,” said Golden Civic Foundation Executive Director Heather Schneider. “Our vision is for a space that will build and elevate nonprofit, business, city and community partnerships to be sustainable in Golden for years to come.”

Foothills Art Center Executive Director Hassan Najjar confirmed that his organization also plans to submit a proposal but declined to share further comments about it.

“We most likely won’t be ready to share those details until we actually submit our proposal, Najjar said.

The council also discussed their concerns that last year’s Astor House consideration process had seemed to favor “insider” city groups and ultimately chose to remove language from the criteria that gave that impression.

“My concern all along has been that there is a perception or a reality of special interests being able to outweigh the rest of the community,” said Mayor Laura Weinberg. “If the proposal is a good proposal for the community and the person that is proposing has only been in Golden for five years they should not be dinged or weighed because they have not been in Golden for 50 years.”

Preservation possibilities

During the meeting, Glueck also discussed with the council how to ensure that the historic building’s exterior is preserved into the future. One possibility would be to grant a historical easement to the Colorado Historic Foundation, which would require that the building be maintained up to a certain standard even if it is sold. The city could also negotiate similar requirements with a tenant directly. Glueck suggested waiting to look at proposals before making a decision about which approach to take. The city will review proposals in September.

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