Plans to demolish a one-story restaurant in Denver’s North Capitol Hill neighborhood have been put on hold while the city and the restaurant’s owner wage a battle over the historic significance of the structure.
The restaurant, Tom’s Diner, located at 601 East Colfax Avenue, has for decades been a popular late night eatery, not only known for its menu but its Googie architecture - a design style typically emphasizing geometric shapes, and upswept roofs, among other so-called Atom Age structural features.
The owner of the property, Tom Messina, has said that he wants to level the diner to make way for the construction of an eight-story apartment complex that would include ground level business space.
Now, members of Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission have voted in favor of recommending landmark status for the building. That recommendation has since been sent on to a committee of the Denver City Council for further determination.
That commission vote has proven controversial with Messina, who says that the property is his only means of income and that he should be allowed to do with it as he pleases.
The Denver Post has weighed in on Messina’s side, declaring: “With any luck, Denver City Council members will reject this attempt to impose a landmark designation on a property owner against his will.”
According to city records, the Greenwood Village-based Alberta Development Partners, hoping to purchase the property from Messina, submitted development documents for the site earlier this year.
City officials have indicated that, as a possible compromise solution, they would like to keep the diner intact, while allowing Messina to develop the larger site surrounding the structure.
By Garry Boulard
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