A new development attached to an historic church may be on the way to Denver's Cole neighborhood.
Last month, the owners of the 1,419 square foot church at the corner of E 38th Avenue & N Franklin Street requested a zoning change along with a historical landmark designation.
The church was originally built in 1888 as The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church and has direct association with the historical development of Denver and more specifically the Cole neighborhood.
The church was built as a direct result of the Swedish immigration to the United States when immigrants established churches in their neighborhood within walking distance of their residence.
However, in the late 1950's, as the latino population in the cole neighborhood grew, the church became the Spanish Seventh Day Adventist Church. When demographics began to shift again, the church became home to the Rising Star Baptist Church, a primarily African American congregation.
During the economic downturn in the 1970's vacancy rates in the Cole neighborhood began to rise and the church was eventually sold to a private owner who converted the building into a private home. Now, the small church represents the origins of the neighborhood through the area's shift, trends and changes into the present era.
The church also serves as an excellent example of vernacular gothic church architecture. The notable features include the flared eaves, cosmetic buttresses, vestibule, and the arched vent/window in the gable end.
The landmark application notes that the church is a rare example of a working-class vernacular church that retains good integrity, while many vernacular buildings are altered, covered up, or demolished as insignificant.
This church remains embedded within the neighborhood and should continue to represent Cole's working-class origins and the neighborhoods continuous changing demographics.
What makes this property unique and a prime site for developers is the 3,750 square feet of unimproved land fronting Franking Street.
Along with requesting historical landmark status, the developer is also requesting a zoning change from PUD 17 to U-MX-2X, which will permit a two-story, mixed-use building with ground floor retail and second story apartments.
This site is prime for redevelopment considering the construction boom we've seen along N Franklin Street and in the RiNo neighborhood to the West.
We commend the developer on their creativity to deliver a new building to the neighborhood while preserving the architecture that makes the Cole neighborhood special.
The city will decide on the landmark designation on Tuesday, however the zoning change will still need final approval.