Denver's Channel 7 Building

Denver's Landmark Preservation Commission voted to designate the Channel 7 building, 123 E. Speer Blvd., a landmark. The building's owners are disputing that. A public hearing before Denver City Council is scheduled for May 10. 

As expected, three Denver residents filed to designate the red-hued concrete Channel 7 building a landmark.

That landmark status would prevent demolition or significant alterations of the five-story, “brutalist” style architecture building at 123 E. Speer Blvd.

The City’s Landmark Preservation Commission last week received a 52-page application for the "KLZ Communications Center" from Bradley Cameron, Michael Henry and David Lynn Wise — common names in Denver historic preservation circles, especially around the Capitol Hill area.

That's despite its current owners, Scripps Media Inc., wanting to sell the property to a developer that doesn’t want the building. The company applied for a “certificate of demolition eligibility” in December.

That would have given the property owner permission to apply for a demolition permit within five years without further review from landmark staff.

LPC staff will now review the landmark designation application for completeness, and to determine if the structure is eligible for designation (which the LPC staff previously gave four reasons why it’s eligible). A public hearing will be scheduled if both boxes are checked.

The office building, erected in 1969, is the only home KMGH “The Denver Channel” has ever had. It started at the same site as KLZ radio — which was housed in a former auto dealership. 

The applicants cited several reasons why the building should preserved as a landmark:

  • “The KLZ Communications Center is significant for its direct and substantial association with the historical development of the television communications industry in Denver.”
  • It is “significant for its direct and substantial association with Hugh B. Terry, a highly influential leader within the local and national broadcast community from 1941 until 1972.”
  • It’s a “significant (and) rare and distinctive example of mid-century Brutalist architecture in downtown Denver.”
  • The building was designed by “the architecture firm Fulmer & Bowers, nationally recognized for its expertise in the design of television studios.”

KMGH General Manager Dean Littleton has said previously the station has outgrown the outdated space, which is ill-equipped to house a modern news gathering and publishing organization.

The three residents met with Littleton, Historic Denver’s Annie Levinsky and the potential buyers (whom Littleton would not disclose the identity of) to discuss a compromise, the application states.

Levinsky said in an email that Historic Denver is not involved with the application, but "we did participate in the mediation sessions to try to be a resource in finding a path forward."

But the potential new owners want to demolish the property and start fresh -- likely for a mixed-use residential development. Cameron has said in prior interviews they’re hoping for an adaptive-reuse of the hulking building -- which many have commented is an eye-sore and doesn’t belong in the rapidly re-developing neighborhood.

The applicants, however, assert it’s a “rare surviving example of a purpose-built television and radio broadcast building constructed in downtown Denver during the 1960s, the KLZ Communications Center promotes a greater understanding and appreciation of Denver’s urban environment as it has evolved over time.”

Debate over landmark preservation issues has been robust in recent years, evidenced by the tussles over the Tom’s Diner building on Colfax Avenue.

Littleton has said Channel 7’s legacy is in the footage it’s documented and saved over the decades – which will travel with it to its new downtown home – not the building.

The five-story office building is the only home KMGH “The Denver Channel” has ever had. It started broadcasting in 1953 at the same site as KLZ radio – which was housed in a former auto dealership since the 1940s.

The building and land have been put up for sale, and a potential buyer has signed a letter of intent.

The Denver Assessor’s office puts a value of $3.01 million on the land and 80,623-square-foot building, as of the 2017 assessment. It’s most assuredly going to go for more than that as evidenced by the high-priced developments springing up in the neighborhood.

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