Letterpress printers prevail in depot bid

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The Englewood Depot is headed toward becoming a letterpress museum and operation, following a July 1 decision by the city council.

Council approved a resolution directing city staff to begin negotiations to sell the depot to Denver residents Tom and Patti Parsons. The letterpress printers want to restore the building.

The council’s vote was 5-2. Mayor Randy Penn, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Woodward and Councilmembers Bob McCaslin, Linda Olson and Jill Wilson voted to approve the resolution, while Councilmembers Joe Jefferson and Rick Gillit voted against the proposal.

During the discussion before the vote, Penn said the council has been dealing with what to do with the depot for 17 months and it was time to make a decision. He said it was a difficult decision for him, but he would approve the sale to the Parsonses. Woodward said the sale of the property was stated in the request for proposal, plus the Parsonses would need ownership of the site in order to successfully apply for restoration grants.

However, Gillit said he would vote against the proposal because he felt the previous 4-3 vote was to lease the property and he felt selling the land was giving away city-owned property. He also said he felt selling the depot to the Parsonses was not a good deal for Englewood residents. Jefferson agreed and said he wanted to see something happen with the depot but didn’t feel the sale to the Parsons was the right decision.

As discussion wrapped up, councilmembers asked the staff to make sure wording in the sales document assured the city had the right to match any third-party offer to buy the depot from the Parsonses. The sales document is also scheduled to include a historic easement, which means the outside of the building must not be altered. The easement is permanent and remains in force even if the depot is ever sold to a third party.

Members of the city staff will now work with the Parsonses to finalize the details of the depot sale. City Manager Gary Sears said property-sale negotiations traditionally take 30 to 60 days.

Once the negotiations are completed, the city council must pass the ordinance approving the sale.

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 Boulevard. It served the city and surrounding communities but, as rail freight and passenger travel 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.

Three proposals were received but one was withdrawn.

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 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 to help pay for restoration of the depot.

The Englewood council created a five-member committee to evaluate the two proposals for restoration and reuse of the depot.

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

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