The Future of the Astor House

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Update: June 10, 2021

On June 7, 2021, the Historic Preservation Board held a hearing to review the revised addition to the Astor House, submitted by the Foothills Art Center. The Board determined that after addressing comments related to the materials, massing and size of the addition, the now brick and glass addition meets the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, Standards for Additions and Alterations, and the City’s Historic Guidelines. The site development plan for the Foothills Art Center’s use of the Astor House will be reviewed by the Golden Planning Commission later this summer.

Update: June 10, 2021

On June 7, 2021, the Historic Preservation Board held a hearing to review the revised addition to the Astor House, submitted by the Foothills Art Center. The Board determined that after addressing comments related to the materials, massing and size of the addition, the now brick and glass addition meets the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, Standards for Additions and Alterations, and the City’s Historic Guidelines. The site development plan for the Foothills Art Center’s use of the Astor House will be reviewed by the Golden Planning Commission later this summer.

Update: May 4, 2021

On May 3, 2021, the Historic Preservation Board reviewed the Certificate of Appropriateness for the rehabilitation of the Astor House and the new addition proposed by Foothills Art Center. The Board’s discussion resulted in a continuation of the item to June 7, 2021 with some ideas for the Foothills to reconsider with a revised addition. Read the full FAC Astor House proposal with staff recommendations.

The Board’s input on the proposal:

  • Consider a different façade material for the addition, a material that is present in the 12th Street Historic District.
  • Consider more defined faux or removable windows for the addition to provide flexibility for the space in the future and lessen the appearance of the massing, while still allowing the space to be used as a gallery.
  • Consider other architectural techniques to minimize the appearance of the massing of the addition.
  • Consider revising the floor plan of the addition to lessen the protrusion of the addition into the yard area.

Update: April 22

The lease between the City and Foothills Art Center for use of the Astor House was authorized by Ordinance 2155 on January 26, 2021 and approved by Resolution 2774. This lease went into effect on March 1, 2021 and allowed Foothills to proceed with planning for the project. Foothills assembled a professional team of architects, landscape architects, and a historic preservationist, and submitted their initial proposal for the building for review by the Golden Historic Preservation Board on April 7, 2021. The full submittal is available on the Historic Preservation Project page of Guiding Golden.

Although the lease from the City to Foothills has been executed, there are a number of additional steps that must be completed before any restoration or expansion of the building could occur:

  • The Historic Preservation Board (HPB) will conduct a public hearing and review entitled a Certificate of Appropriateness review, tentatively scheduled for May 3, 2021. This review is mandated by Chapter 18.58 of the City Municipal Code and is the process whereby HPB considers the appropriateness of any exterior change to a historically designated property based upon specific criteria, including standards established by the Secretary of the Interior in this case, since the Astor House is on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Following the HPB review process, the site development plan for the property (which includes many other items in addition to the architectural review conducted by HPB) will be submitted to the City, as required by Chapter 18.40 of the Golden Municipal Code. The review of the site plan will be handled by Planning Commission at a to-be-determined date. Once the site development plan application is formally submitted to the City, it will be available for review on the Development Projects page on Guiding Golden.
  • Both of these reviews by City boards will include a solicitation of public comment and questions, in accordance with City procedures. In addition, there will likely be a review of a substitutional financial contribution for any parking spaces otherwise required if a building expansion is authorized in the process. Depending upon the outcome of these official processes, the project may move to construction later this year.

In July 2020, City Council decided that they would accept community based proposals for lease of the Astor House at 12th and Arapahoe Streets. Council was not interested in a sale of the property, and wanted to emphasize community benefit in the proposals. Two proposals were submitted from two great organizations in Golden, the Foothills Art Center and the Golden Civic Foundation. City Council was very impressed with both of the proposals and has decided to move forward with the Foothills Art Center proposal. The lease between the City and Foothills Art Center for use of the Astor House was authorized by Ordinance 2155 on January 26, 2021 and approved by Resolution 2774.

History:

The Astor House inhabits a special part of Golden’s history and lore. The 150-year-old structure was built in 1867 and served as a hotel and boarding house for more than a century. The building was saved from demolition in the 1970s, came under City ownership, and was made into an historic house museum.

The Astor House struggled as a museum and visitation declined precipitously over the past many years. Additionally, the building faced many structural issues including overloaded joists, water intrusion, and foundation degradation.

In 2015, the Astor House underwent a major structural rehabilitation that added steel beams to support the flooring of the structure. This project included asbestos abatement throughout the first and second floors of the building, which removed wallpaper and plaster. The project effectively left the building structurally stable but the interior gutted with no ceilings, walls, plumbing, or electrical. The decision was made to not complete interior finishes until a determination is made as to the use or disposition of property. Cost estimates anticipate a minimum of $500,000 to make the building inhabitable. The City replaced the roof in August 2018. The property is zoned C-2.

The City previously considered several options for building use, including other types of museums, office space, bed and breakfasts, special event rental space, conference space, etc. An extensive feasibility study was conducted in 2017 to evaluate a Colorado Beer Museum concept for the property. Consultants M. Goodwin Museum Planning Inc. were retained to complete the study.

The findings of the study were threefold. 1. The Colorado Beer Museum concept is a winner. 2. The standalone Astor House is an insufficient and inadequate space for a successful Colorado Beer Museum. 3. The Astor House is ill-suited for any standalone museum to sustain itself.

While the City’s Golden History Museum and Park division utilized the building in the past, staff determined that the structure is not ideal for any current municipal use. According to the City Attorney, because the property was purchased for municipal use, any other type of use would be subject to a vote of the people for approval. City Council directed staff to solicit proposals to help determine best potential future uses and whether or not a vote of the people would be required.

In 2018, the city solicited proposals and held a process to determine if any of the five proposals received were the direction city council wanted to go. Ultimately, city council decided to look for future opportunities for community uses.

Page last updated: 10 June 2021, 10:37