Depot’s future still not decided

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The saga of the Englewood Depot continues, as the city council backed the idea of a letterpress museum, but balked at the idea of selling the property.

At the council’s June 17 study session, members were 4-3 in favor of an evaluation committee’s recommendation to accept a proposal submitted by Tom and Patti Parsons, who want to restore the building and turn it into a letterpress museum.

But in another 4-3 split, council members decided that — although the request for proposal called for selling the building and land — it would be best to try to negotiate a long-term lease for the property.

As a result, the council will receive a resolution at the July 1 meeting to allow city staff to enter negotiations with the Parsonses, seeking to agree on a lease arrangement for the city-owned land. The result of the negotiations will determine whether or not the Parsonses will move forward with their proposal.

If the Parsonses reject the lease option, the council then can revisit the issue and agree to the sale of the site, approve the historical preservation proposal to restore the depot and make it a city museum, or reject all options and retain ownership of the depot.

Englewood’s depot was built in the early 1900s and sat along the tracks near what is now the intersection of Hampden Avenue and Santa Fe Drive. As freight and passenger traffic declined in the 1950s, it was closed.

Residents rallied to save the depot when it was scheduled for demolition by the developer of what is now the Sports Authority site. Eventually the building was moved to its present location at Dartmouth Avenue and Galapago Street. There was an initial effort to restore it and make it a community museum, but that failed. The city took possession of the building and the depot sat untended for decades.

Earlier this year, the council made the decision to seek a buyer and sent out a request for proposal to restore the building and put it to use.

Two proposals were received. The Englewood Historic Preservation Society submitted a proposal to turn the depot into a museum. The group planned to submit application for grants in order to restore the depot and start museum operations.

The proposal by the Parsonses proposal would undertake historic restoration of the depot and turn the inside into a letterpress operation and museum using their resources. They also would seek historic restoration grants.

The Englewood council created a five-member committee to evaluate the two proposals for restoration and reuse of the depot submitted as a result of the city’s request for proposal.

The evaluation committee was made up of three professionals with expertise related to historic preservation and financing of historic structures and two Englewood residents.

Individually and unanimously, the committee recommended moving forward with the Parsons proposal. In their summary of the evaluations, the biggest factor committee members found in favor of the plan was financial capability to fund rehabilitation and long-term operations.

Council members discussed the recommendation and gave consensus approval to move forward with the Parsons proposal. The consensus was four to three with Mayor Pro Tem Jim Woodward and Councilmembers Bob McCaslin, Jill Wilson and Linda Olson favoring the recommendation. Mayor Randy Penn and Councilmembers Joe Jefferson and Rick Gillit opposing the proposal.

Jefferson and Gillit both said they didn’t want to see the land sold because of its value and felt it should be leased.

There was a sometimes heated discussion about seeking to lease the land instead of selling it, as was spelled out in the request for proposal.

The decision was to determine if there was a consensus to try to negotiate a lease instead of a sale of the building and land. Jefferson, Gillit, Penn and Olson agreed the land should be leased. Woodward, McCaslin and Wilson wanted to see the land sold as was indicated in the request for proposal.