The Future of the Astor House

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Current:

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. City staff will work with Foothills Art Center on an agreement of lease terms

Current:

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. City staff will work with Foothills Art Center on an agreement of lease terms which will come back to City Council for discussion and approval at a later date.

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.