Uptown buildings to be repurposed

Former Cathedral High School and Malo gym will become boutique hotel and restaurant

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Many people recognize the properties at 1840 Grant St. and 1835 Logan St. in Denver’s Uptown because of their architectural beauty.

“They’re anchors that orient people in the neighborhood,” said Annie Levinsky, executive director of Historic Denver, Inc. “These historic buildings give Denver a unique sense of identity.”

She added these structures also have rich ties to the community.

According to Levinsky, Cathedral High School, 1840 Grant St., and the Sisters of Charity Convent were built in 1921. The school’s Malo Gymnasium, 1835 Logan St., was built in 1928. The convent closed in the 1970s, but reopened in 1976, after a renovation, as the Seton House to serve as an intercommunity residence for Sisters traveling to Denver. The high school closed in 1982 because of declining enrollment.

In an email, Michael Henry, chair of the Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill’s Historic Preservation Committee, wrote, “in 1989, Mother — now Saint — Teresa toured the former high school and convent and decided to have her order convert the convent to a hospice for terminally-ill AIDS patients. The hospice closed in 2002.”

Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill is a registered neighborhood organization.

Currently, the buildings are vacant and rundown. But in the near future, they will be the products of an adaptive re-use project.

In late October, Denver City Council approved a tax increment financing (TIF) for the two structures. The redeveloper, GFI Development Co., which is a New York-based company that has experience with rehabilitating historic buildings, plans to re-purpose the buildings into a boutique hotel and restaurant, event space and perhaps some office space.

TIF is one of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority’s financial tools, said Jeff Bader, a redevelopment specialist with DURA. The way it works is GFI will get reimbursed for the gap of need for only the costs associated with the rehabilitation and adaptive-reuse of the historic structures. In this case, it is $14.25 million. Reimbursement will happen annually as the completed project’s sales-and-increased property tax revenue is generated.

“We are hopeful that now … these fine, but dilapidated, historic buildings will be returned to productive use in our neighborhood,” Henry said. “It is a success story of adaptive reuse of historic buildings.”

About a decade ago, however, the future was bleak for the properties.

“They were briefly threatened with demolition,” Levinsky said.

Cathedral Parish and the Archdiocese of Denver decided to sell the property, and in October 2011, the prospective buyers submitted an application for a Certificate of Non-Historic Status, which, “in effect, (is) a demolition application,” Levinsky added. Plans were to build an apartment complex in their place, Henry said.

This triggered action by the community that eventually led to the buyers cancelling their purchase contract.

“I had the honor to research and file an application for Denver landmark designation for 1840 Grant and 1835 Logan on behalf of Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods,” Henry said. Others involved in the designation application were Historic Denver and Colorado Preservation, Inc. “In return for withdrawal of that application, the Parish and the Archdiocese allowed us and Historic Denver, Inc., to help show the properties to prospective developers or users interested in re-using the structures rather than demolishing them. Luckily, those efforts were successful.”

A local developer ended up purchasing the buildings, but in 2017, sold the property to GFI.

Though they don’t have historic designation, GFI is committed to preserving the two buildings, Bader said.

“It broke peoples’ hearts how they (the buildings at 1840 Grant St. and 1835 Logan St.) fell into disrepair,” Bader said. “The community made it clear they’re a cherished asset. The community wanted to see them preserved, but also given new life.”

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