Golden’s Historic Preservation Board has voted unanimously to greenlight Foothills Art Center’s proposed rear addition to the historic Astor House, paving the way for Foothills to seek final …
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July 2020: Golden begins seeking applications for potential uses of Astor House that could benefit community.
September 2020: City announces that it has received two proposals, one from Foothills Art Center to use the house as an art space and the other from the Golden Community Foundation.
Dec. 2020: The Golden City Council announces that it will move forward with finalizing a 30-year lease for the Astor House with Foothills Art Center.
May 2021: The Golden Historic Preservation Board reviews a design for the Astor House calling for a rear addition, which had not been part of Foothills’ initial proposal. The board asks for changes to be made to the design.
June 2021: The Historic Preservation Board approves a revised design.
Upcoming: Foothills will need to submit a more detailed site plan for the project for review by the Planning Commission.
Golden’s Historic Preservation Board has voted unanimously to greenlight Foothills Art Center’s proposed rear addition to the historic Astor House, paving the way for Foothills to seek final approval for their project from Golden’s Planning Commission.
Representatives from Foothills went before the board on June 7 with a revised concept for the addition, which they have maintained is necessary to turn the house into a modern arts facility and say will contain an elevator, public restroom and additional gallery space.
Those representatives had previously gone before the board in May with a design that called for a rear addition that would be nearly identical in size to the Astor House that would not have windows and be clad in a “perforated metal screen.” The board was tasked with reviewing the proposal to ensure it would maintain the historic integrity of the Astor House, which was built in 1887.
However, the board pushed back against that concept and requested Foothills return with a new design that would ‘use of a different façade material that is present in the 12th Street Historic District, incorporate removable windows, consider other architectural techniques to minimize the massing of the addition and revise the floor plan to minimize the protrusion of the addition into the Astor House yard area.”
Foothill’s new design, which was created in response, calls for the building to have a brick façade that would be painted “in a blend of white and grays” to match the exterior of the existing Astor House. The new design also includes windows to be located on both the east and west sides of the addition, with some of the windows being drywalled over from the inside to allow a portion of the space to function as a gallery.
The overall footprint of the proposed addition has also been reduced by 3.5 feet while a second-floor deck was added to the eastern side above the glass atrium that will connect the addition to the existing Astor House building. According to the re-submission document, the use of brick and addition of windows would also function to minimize the massing of the building.
During the meeting, Linda Murphy was one of several board members who praised the changes that had been made to the initial design.
“They did everything we asked for, and I think it looks great,” she said.
The board also heard from several residents about the proposal, including some who expressed support and two owners of nearby businesses that expressed opposition.
Dean Valdez, the owner of the nearby Old Capitol Grill & Smokehouse and Bella Colibri restaurants, said that while he supports the concept of Foothills taking over the Astor House, he is against the proposed design because it completely destroys the view from his restaurants.
“What I’m requesting is that we look at this and we get community input,” he said. “And there are people who are for it and want a different design and that’s where we are at.”
Stephen Gould, the owner of the Golden Moon Speakeasy in Miners Alley, expressed the same concern.
However, the board ultimately concluded that it is not part of its purview to consider “views,” with some members also questioning whether the addition would have the impact Valdez and Gould described when viewed from those businesses.
“I think we would be doing the whole community a disservice by sending this back to square one,” said board member Mark Horan. “We can’t keep telling architects to keep redesigning because you can’t redesign forever. At some point you have to settle on something and I think what they’ve done here is gone out of there way to settle on something that in my opinion is really great for the community.”
The board also seemed to come to an agreement that it was not up to it to determine whether Foothills’ actions to request to add an addition to the building after initially making a proposal to the city that did not mention an addition amounted to a “bait and switch” that should result in the process for determining a tenant to takeover Foothills being restarted. They said residents who want the city to start the process over should instead file an appeal with the city council.
Under city code, “any person aggrieved by a decision of the board may, within 15 days thereafter, apply to the council of the city for review of the board’s decision. The aggrieved party shall file with the city manager a written notice requesting the council to review said decision.”
With the Historic Preservation Board’s review process now finished, Foothills will next need to submit a more detailed site plan for the project to the Golden Planning Commission. Golden Planning Director Rick Muriby said that would likely be the last stop in the review process, unless either the Historic Preservation Board or Planning Commissions’ decision is appealed to city council.
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