The Future of the Astor House

Current:

The Astor House process is on hold while staff and City Council consider next steps.

Background:

The Foster/Astor Yard group presented to four boards/committees for feedback, the Parks, Recreation, and Museums Board, Citizen Budget Advisory Committee, Downtown Development Authority, and the Historic Preservation Committee. Overall, the boards and committees seem to be interested in the Foster Proposal and noted that there are more steps before the city can make a final decision about the Astor House. For full conversations, please see the links to videos of the meetings below or on the agendas on our website.

Current:

The Astor House process is on hold while staff and City Council consider next steps.

Background:

The Foster/Astor Yard group presented to four boards/committees for feedback, the Parks, Recreation, and Museums Board, Citizen Budget Advisory Committee, Downtown Development Authority, and the Historic Preservation Committee. Overall, the boards and committees seem to be interested in the Foster Proposal and noted that there are more steps before the city can make a final decision about the Astor House. For full conversations, please see the links to videos of the meetings below or on the agendas on our website.

  • The Foster Group indicated that they would agree to:

    • Preservation easement that stays with the property in perpetuity.

    • Any alterations or modifications to the exterior will follow the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Board and the State Historic Preservation Office.

    • The City having the right of first refusal.

    • Require the first floor and yard to be open to the public for a majority of open hours.

    • The price of $550,000.

    • On June 13, City Council confirmed the recommendation of the review committee to move forward on the Foster Proposal by inviting presentations before other city boards and committees. The key questions that are being considered by the boards and commissions are:

  • Does the use support Golden Vision goals?
  • Does the use complement the building, the downtown area, and the neighborhood?
  • Does the use have long-term potential and a sustainable business idea?
  • Does the use appropriately preserve the historic façade and respect the history of the building?
  • Does the proposed compensation to the city and financial terms benefit the city?
  • Should the Foster proposal include the Astor Yard as a partner?

Memorandum sent to the City Council

Full Proposal

Here are video links to the meetings where the Astor House Presentation/Proposal was discussed:

The Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued in September of 2018 and closed in November, generating five proposals for the City to consider. The proposals were subsequently reviewed by a working group consisting of staff subject matter experts, three City Council representatives, and three community representatives.

The Review Committee presented their recommendation to City Council in the March 21 study session. The committee recommended moving the Foster Proposal forward to board and commissions for review as well as gathering public input.

City Council provided guidance to the review committee to give all proposers a chance to reconsider their proposals and make any changes they would like based on feedback from the committee and city council.

Two proposals were resubmitted with new information and were presented to the review committee on May 30, 2019. The review committee asked questions and discussed the process moving forward.

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.

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