One proposal for Astor House’s future moves forward

Council favors Foster plan, which city commissions must still discuss

Posted 6/18/19

A proposal for a juice-and-snack bar, a community area, a micro hotel or modern hostel and an outdoor space is the Golden City Council’s favored plan for the rejuvenation of the historic Astor …

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One proposal for Astor House’s future moves forward

Council favors Foster plan, which city commissions must still discuss

Posted

A proposal for a juice-and-snack bar, a community area, a micro hotel or modern hostel and an outdoor space is the Golden City Council’s favored plan for the rejuvenation of the historic Astor House in downtown Golden.

The council decided June 13 to move forward with the so-called Foster proposal, which will now be reviewed by some of Golden’s boards and commissions. The proposal will come back to the council July 11 for further direction.

The Astor House’s review committee felt the Foster proposal has “the best balance of community use and financial stability,” said Deputy City Manager Carly Lorentz during her staff presentation to city council on June 13. In fact, “the review committee recommended the Foster proposal in the first round.”

The proposal offers a three-tiered business approach for the Astor House. The juice-and-snack bar on the first floor would double as a community area at night. The second floor would hold the hotel or hostel. The outdoor space that could be rented or opened to public use will be located in the yard.

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. They are partnering with Golden residents Amirah Shahid and Craig and Kaycee Vickers, also known as Astor Yard, who would develop what would be called the outdoor space.

The review committee, composed of three council members, three community members and city staff, liked the proposal’s lodging element because that was Astor House’s original business. Seth Lake opened the Astor House as a hotel in 1867. Ida Goetz purchased it in 1892 and operated it as a boarding house for 60 years.

Councilmember Rob Reed, who is not on the review committee, said he would like feedback about the impact on parking, any other competing businesses and what would happen if the use ends up differing from the proposal.

Mayor Marjorie Sloan also had concerns about downtown Golden’s business community’s opinions on the proposal after hearing from two business owners that they were unaware about which proposals were being considered.

“I would ask that the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) specifically make sure to contact the businesses in the downtown area so they can have information about it,” Sloan said. “Because it really does affect them.”

In 1972, Golden residents voted to save the Astor House 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.

The review committee, which must also consider the historic preservation of the building, received five proposals by the original Nov. 12 deadline. Following discussions by the committee and council in February and March, the authors of the five proposals were invited to resubmit with additional details or revisions by May 20.

Two proposals were resubmitted — the Foster proposal and the Museum of Reinterpretation, which also would partner with Astor Yard.

Astor Yard had originally submitted a proposal that envisioned a public space featuring indoor and outdoor elements for food vending, dining, gathering and events/programs. As a partner with the Foster proposal, it would invest in the Astor House’s property’s yard area, and build a commercial kitchen with a second-floor patio, according to city documents.

The Foster proposal’s original submission included the intent to purchase the Astor House from the city for $550,000. However, after the most recent discussion with the review committee, Lorentz told city council on June 13 the proposal’s authors are open to an entire lot purchase or partial purchase of the property, as well as a long-term lease. This part of the proposal will be up for negotiation with city council should the proposal go further in the process.

A sale of the Astor House would require a citywide public vote. If that were to happen, the goal would be to decide in September whether to put a question on the ballot this year, Lorentz said.

Submitted by a group of five Golden residents, the Museum of Reinterpretation’s original proposal envisioned the Astor House as an arts/educational/entertainment/cultural center to serve all ages and demographics of the Golden community. It included the second floor as possible office space. The review committee’s main concern was that it was a high financial risk with uncertain financial sustainability.

The resubmitted proposal says some financial assistance has been acquired for startup costs. And, as with the Foster proposal, Astor Yard would invest in the yard area with the same kitchen-and-patio amenities as mentioned in the Foster proposal.

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