Denver Beats Developer Claim of Misconduct in Historic Anderson House Case
Denver – On Aug. 14, 2015, Denver District Judge Bruce Jones ruled against a developer’s claim that Denver incorrectly allowed residents of Jefferson Park to file an application to designate the former home of William W. Anderson, lawyer for Alfred (Alferd) Packer, as a historic landmark on the last day applications were due. It is now up to the court to decide if they will remove a stay and allow the Denver Landmark Commission to hold a hearing to determine if 2329 N Eliot’s historical and architectural value warrants a City Council decision on whether to give it historic status.
2329 Developers LLC, a subsidiary of Adams Development LLC, and the owner of the property asked the 2nd District Court for the City and County of Denver to rule that the Non-Historic status for the property remains in effect, after it was incorrectly issued, and for the court to prohibit the Landmark Preservation Commission or the City of Denver from processing or hearing a historic landmark designation application filed by Jefferson Park residents. The lawsuit accused the city of giving special consideration to then City Councilman-elect Rafael Espinoza after he asked the City Attorney’s office for clarification on the application deadline. The court roundly disagreed with the assertions of the developer’s argument.
“Plaintiffs’ incendiary rhetoric in its pleadings and briefs produces more heat than light,” Judge Jones’ decision reads. “Plaintiffs insist that the [City of Denver’s Community Planning and Development Department (CPD)] could not change the way it “counts days” at the end of the process. This argument overlooks that the Espinoza application was not filed on the 28/29th day of the timeframe, but on the 27/28th day, albeit after 4 p.m….If the Espinoza application could be filed/accepted after 4 p.m., but before midnight on May 28, then the issuance of the Certificate was premature. And, if premature, the question then becomes whether it could be rescinded. The Court answers both questions in the affirmative.”
The decision went on to note that Espinoza had not been given special treatment:
“ …the argument that there was an ex parte appeal to [City Attorney’s Office(CAO)] lacks merit. The CAO, at the request of CPD, provided legal advice with respect to Mr. Espinoza’s claim that CPD had miscalculated the appropriate time frame. This was not an “appeal”‘ to the CAO by Mr.Espinoza. Calling it such substitutes labels for analysis. While CPD followed the direction provided by CAO, the decision at issue is that ofCPD (and not the CAO).
“We are not surprised that the courts upheld the decision by the city to allow residents to rightfully enter an application to save a historic Denver landmark,” said Jerry Olson, one of the neighborhood residents working to save the property. “Hopefully, Denver will now have the opportunity to realize the importance that a rare pristine historic treasure holds not just for Northwest Denver residents, but for Denver character and cultural past.”
Working with Historic Denver, Olson, along with then Councilman –elect Rafael Espinoza and other residents, submitted the Historic Landmark Designation on the last day applications were being taken to save the home from a developers wrecking ball after they were informed that an application previously submitted by adjacent landowner, Nick Garcia, had been pulled 17 minutes before the city’s offices closed for the day – after developer Nathan Adams, owner of Adams Development LLC came to an agreement with Garcia over parking spaces affected by the planned 16-unit development. The owner at the behest of Adams received a certificate of non-historic status on the home at 4:18 p.m. the same day.
While Adams has reportedly offered the owner $1 million for the Anderson house, adjacent house, and a recent city alley vacation valued at over $300,000 contingent on a non-historic status of the 2329 N Eliot, the Landmark Designation applicants have heard proposals that would offer the owner considerably more for the property to develop the Anderson House as a 13-unit historically designated landmark. The win-win scenario would replace recently destroyed for-sale homes in the neighborhood, likely allow the owner to receive a higher return on his investment, and preserve for residents of Denver their historic and cultural past.
Residents of Jefferson Park rallied around the Anderson home after Historic Denver brought to light the history of William W. Anderson. Both the attorney for the cannibal Alfred Packer and the victim/assailant of two Denver Post owners in 1900, Anderson wounded both Denver Post owners after shooting them over their accusations he was stealing from Packer. The house sits where it has since being built as a pristine example of Queen Anne architecture along the trolley line of what was once the Town of Highlands. While most of the homes from that era are facing destruction as the Jefferson Park neighborhood, like much of Denver, is undergoing considerable uncharacteristic development, 2329 N Eliot provides a strong tie to the past, a pristine example of architectural excellence and acts as reference point for future development.
“Now that District Judge Bruce Jones has rendered his Decision, we hope the stay will be removed and application moved on to the hearing before the Landmark Preservation Commission. There are strong reasons for preservation of this historic 1886 Queen Anne style home, and all of Denver would be at a loss if the Anderson Home were demolished,” said Olson. “I am personally convinced the property owner will be better off financially by retaining ownership of 2329 N Eliot and selling the remainder of his land for development than from the published offer. Hopefully, we can sit down and discuss all the ways both he and the community can benefit.”
In an effort to preserve the Anderson House and with it the vital character and history of Denver, a petition has been started and can be seen online at: https://saveandersonhouse.wordpress.com/portfolio/petition-to-save-the-anderson-house/
See a PDF of the ruling here: https://saveandersonhouse.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/2329-vs-denver-236.pdf
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