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"It's been a total communication breakdown," says city councilwoman Jeanne Robb, who's been lauded by residents for trying to mediate the dispute. "I am somewhat shocked that the realtor and the property owner didn't talk to us before the sale, that David Warren didn't talk to us. We didn't know that Open Door had contracted to buy it. When I found out, I called David and said, 'You're not going to be happy on this block.'"

In addition to LightHouse, Clarkson residents have been dealing with two other new developments. Some of the neighbors went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to challenge the arrival of Pomegranate Place, an "empowerment center" for women, which holds prayer groups, book club discussions, poetry readings and art shows, and rents out space for other events. Homeowners have also been embroiled in heated public meetings over a 42-unit apartment complex planned a block away, at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Emerson, the former site of a community garden.

"I feel like we've got a big target on our back," says Goldman, whose family moved onto the block four years ago. "I don't know what the politics are, but the city doesn't seem to be as accommodating with the neighbors as they have been with these other groups. It's been very frustrating."

Nancy Chapin with grandson Cameron
says the city reneged on a pledge to keep a concentration of group homes out of Capitol Hill.
Mark Manger
Nancy Chapin with grandson Cameron says the city reneged on a pledge to keep a concentration of group homes out of Capitol Hill.
Doug and Cedra Goldman (with sons Bryce and Collin) say the city reneged on a pledge to keep a concentration of group homes out of Capitol Hill.
Mark Manger
Doug and Cedra Goldman (with sons Bryce and Collin) say the city reneged on a pledge to keep a concentration of group homes out of Capitol Hill.

"We're not a bunch of old fussbuckets, but this has been a perfect storm," adds Chapin. "This is a block that's really worth saving. My husband and I might want to sell our house some day. But who's going to buy a house next to recovering alcoholics and drug addicts?"

"What the city says to me is that if someone has the zoning for a use permit, you give it to them," says Robb. "I see this as an ongoing, long struggle."

*****

A personal confession: I have no financial or other ties to any of the current residents of Clarkson Street, but it's part of a neighborhood that I could never be purely objective about. I spent most of the first eighteen years of my life across the alley on Emerson, in a two-and-a-half-story house my parents bought in 1956 and occupied for more than half a century.

Built in 1907, the house had once belonged to Henry T. Ellis, one of Capitol Hill's most successful real-estate hustlers. My father did much of the maintenance work on the place, which had the usual vagaries of plumbing and wiring that you expect in aging but sturdy grand dames. For many years, my mother was the organizer, treasurer and prime mover of the community garden on the corner, which sprang up on a vacant lot after the owner agreed to accept an annual tithe of fresh vegetables instead of rent.

In its first bloom, the neighborhood was "built predominately by people who exemplified the business and professional core of the Denver community," notes the citizen application for historic district status. The Bennett-Field house, for example, is named after its first two owners, attorney Edmon Bennett and Edward Field, who worked his way up from telephone operator to president of the Mountain States Telephone & Telegraph Company. Other luminaries who resided in the 700 block of Clarkson included Thomas Nolan, one of the founders of Universal Pictures; US National Bank president Gordon Jones; a Coors or two; and, of course, the Zang clan.

By the time our family arrived, the south end of Capitol Hill was no longer considered quite so fashionable. Respectably middle-class, yes, but not nearly as ritzy as a Country Club address or something in Cherry Hills. There were still movers and shakers to be found nearby — Dana Crawford, the resuscitator of Larimer Square, lived half a block down on Seventh Avenue, across the alley from car dealer Ralph Schomp and his schoolboard-member wife, Kay, and their six daughters. But there were also many old Denver squares that hadn't been kept up and were being carved into funky warrens or razed and replaced with some hideous cinderblock notion of apartment life.

Clarkson, which had evolved into a busy one-way, was one of the streets that bore the brunt of these changes. But during the Peña and Webb administrations, as the city took steps to revitalize its core neighborhoods, things began to turn around. Tougher zoning regulations discouraged the apartment conversions and limited the number of group homes that could operate in the area. The one-way street was reduced to one lane, slowing traffic and easing parking problems. After years of complaints from neighbors, a halfway house for parolees on the block was shut down. And the historic-district designation encouraged investment, restoration — even re-gentrification.

"Over the last ten to fifteen years, that block has really stabilized," says Robb. "The people coming in have been young, urban families. They expected something different when they bought there because of all the stabilizing factors."

But some eclectic elements remained. For almost forty years, the Order of Christ Centered Ministries operated out of two huge houses in the middle of the block. David Morgan and his wife, Delores, had moved into 750 Clarkson in the 1960s, then acquired the Bennett-Field house next door in 1970 — and renamed the two properties "The Priory" and "The House of St. Benedict." Although the attic and basement of the Bennett-Field house were converted into apartments, the common areas became a gathering place for retreats, meditation and Christian studies for a small group of seekers, primarily Episcopalians and Catholics. The ministry also claimed to "provide assistance for people in transition," including recovering alcoholics and people with mental-health issues. Yet the operation didn't cause much of a stir in the neighborhood until the Morgans started exploring the idea of selling the houses.

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26 comments
AddisonDewitt
AddisonDewitt

I don't know what's worse: a building full of criminals or a building full of chanting women. At least if you kill the guys, no one will complain.

Urbanliving
Urbanliving

Does any resident of this part of Cap Hill not love the facility operated at the NW corner of 11th and Pearl? We try not to walk on that side of the corner at all costs, so as to avoid the tall Night Stalker looking guy from giving my fiancee the 1,000 yard stare. Serving a useful purpose or not, that place is so disgusting that it seems even the residents spend as much time as they can sitting outside on the stoop incessantly smoking and talking to themselves. The best part is if you are nearby early in the morning when the residents are outside for their first smoke of the day, you can hear them hacking phlegm balls at least a block away. Hooray for more treatment facilities wherever this Warren guy lives!

Zebo
Zebo

Liberals getting a dose of liberalism but don't like it in their backyard.

Urbanliving
Urbanliving

Pssst, Zebo, maybe if you use a couple more derivations of the word liberal in your post, it will form a complete thought.

jenniferAD
jenniferAD

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from : BidsBit.com

Edmund
Edmund

"... the neighbors ought to mind their own business," says Jamie, a bearded, bandanna-wearing LightHouse member... Uh, Jamie... the neighborhood IS their business...

juliaal
juliaal

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.Here is the website we use to get it all from : http://BidsBit.com

julie4Lo
julie4Lo

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.Here is the website we use to get it all from : http://BidsBit.com

julie4Lo
julie4Lo

I just paíd $20.87 for an íPad 2.64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasoníc Lumíx GF 1 Cámera that we got for $38.79 there arriving tomorrow by UP S.I will never pay such expensive retail príces in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LCD T V to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62.81 to buy.Here is the website we use to get it all from : http://BidsBit.com

calhounp
calhounp

we'd like to include some of these comments in our print edition -- ideally with the author's name and town. If that's okay, let me know at patricia.calhoun@westword.com. Or feel free to send me another version that you'd like to see published.

Ronb77
Ronb77

leticia olalia morales of 15501 pasadena ave #8 tustin ca 92780 submitted fake documents and paid 5000 dollars to obtain a US tourist visa. she also submitted fake employment records to obtain a work visa. she is now applying for citizenship. her contact at the embassy was man named sandman.

GregInDenver
GregInDenver

I have owned a condo a few blocks away for over 10 years. One of the hallmarks of an urban environment is that it is mixed use (my block is not as "ritzy" as 700 Clarkson). There are plenty of suburbs in the Denver area where uses are completely segregated, if that's what these owners want. It requires a lot of money to buy a house in this area, and apparently these homeowners think that their money entitles them to exclude people they don't like from the neighborhood. They may well succeed, and then we can look forward to more people with addictions and other issues wandering the streets of Capitol Hill rather than getting help. Good job, neighbors.

N.D.
N.D.

Like it or not, these so-called entitled neighbors strike me as the "little guys" in this story. If you want to talk money, entitlement, and power... then let's look at how Open Door Ministries has decided to exercise theirs: Open Door Ministries is a large, well known and politically connected charity in urban Denver and has chosen to spend $300k provided to them by generous donors on a project that they simply must have known was a risky venture. If they didn't, then shame on them.

Less than a year ago, they were told this program could not operated at the Croke-Patterson Mansion because of zoning density ordinances. These ordinances are wisely designed to maintain the delicate balance of mixed uses, especially in these residential urban areas, to ensure a quality of life for all. Open Door Ministries' desired use at 740 Clarkson is for the same LightHouse rehabilitation program and for the same group of recovering men, but they're claiming it now now mysteriously falls under a different, less restrictive use classification. Why...? Because they must think they have enough political clout and access to free/donated legal assistance to take the risk and battle it out with Zoning and the neighbors.

To me, this is an abuse of power and a demonstration of poor judgement regarding the use of funds generously provided by individuals and entities who trust Open Door Ministries to wisely utilize their finances. Good job ODM.

Joan
Joan

This isn't a situation of people using their money to exclude people they don't like, this is an abuse of an existing city ordinance.

" A city ordinance requires that such facilities be at least 2,000 feet from each other and that no more than two can exist within a 4,000-foot radius of any newcomer. There are already three such facilities less than 4,000 feet from 740 Clarkson."

Yes, the neighbors of 740 Clarkson are getting zapped. If I lived on the street I would rally my neighbors to fight this. Open Door Ministries has many properties to choose from - after all, it's a buyers market. Why did they have to choose one that breaks existing ordinances? Don't they know their bible versus ... "Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." Their choice to ignore existing laws and the resulting turmoil are the kinds of thing that gives Christians a bad name.

S. G.
S. G.

I fully understand the frustration of the homeowners. I, too, live in a neighborhood that has an overabundance services and very low income housing: homeless shelters, homeless services, homeless transitional housing, single room occupancy (SRO) housing, very low income rentals. This area has way more of its share of no & low income housing and services. Neighborhoods need an economic balance. Right now we are too tilted to low income, yet, those projects keep coming. We are not NIMBY. We all live together. But what we need is more "for sale" workforce housing. We would like neighborhood services--like a restaurant or two but economic development requires that people have money to spend. Those homeowners on Clarkson are seeking some stability and they just keep getting another halfway house. It makes us weary. Enough is enough!

Kendra
Kendra

I live on a block away on Clarkson, and its a crying shame a family didn't buy this stately home. Capitol Hill's been a dumping ground for half-way houses for decades. Now the neighborhood's finally clawing back & should fight junk like this, that drags down values.

Chapinprop
Chapinprop

Thank you for you support and your real understanding of the issues here. We're not just a bunch of stuck-up yuppies. We just want the security and stability of owner occupant neighbors, not transients with substance abuse problems who stated at a neighborhood meeting that they would be homeless if it weren't for this facility. Why can't these programs go save some guys in Littleton?

CM
CM

The graceful solution would be for Open Door to admit they did not do their proper due diligence before purchasing the property so they did not know that it could not legally be used for the LightHouse program. They should move the program to an area where it is legal to operate it with all of the appropriate supervision of the residents. It seems that they purchased the property for a great price and should be able to sell it and make a profit. Wouldn't this be a win-win solution?

Mike S
Mike S

Westword is there any reason why you keep publishing these stories that just seem to ooze anti Christian this and anti Christian that? Seriously this is getting old. People can read between the lines. If this didn't have to do with a Christian provided service you would care less. Are you ever going to print anything we can actually talk about?

Considering you are on the front page of Yahoo's home page every day,your following is laughable. After two weeks you can barely muster a half a dozen tweets. Your comment section is also about the same level as a story on pulling weeds.

Maybe next week you can give us another nauseating article about how people going to church take up too many parking places. Or perhaps how all those people going to church are contributing to the Global warming problem. What ever it is I think I would rather read anything but these useless stories nobody cares about except for you and maybe three other people.

Mike
Mike

Well, we can talk about this property/addiction/zoning issue--without claiming some persecution complex. Christ would probably not be very impressed at the way you claim how hard you have it.

Get over yourself.

Vibekeb70
Vibekeb70

Dear Alan,

you article is well written. I am personally familiar with both the owners of 750 and 740 clarkson street. I belive in the depth of my heart that they have nothing but good intetntions for the neigbourhood and its further development. I belive the thought that any one family would be able to afford these great mansions in this economy is greatly erronious. So should we let these great historical properties fall into dissarry, or let them benefit a greater part of the community. My most saddening though is that the community spirit of clarkson street misses the gracefull spirit that previously inhabited both 740 1nd 750 Clarkson Street, not due to its new inhabitants but rather due to the un-hospitiable feelings of the neighbourhood. I live in capitol hill and love capitol hill, but do not love the lack of grace that currently inhabits the " neighbours" on clarkson street. Please do not ascibe ill intent to people who you have made no effort to get to know.

with the hope of the emergence of a more gracefull neighbourhood

Vibs

Chapinprop
Chapinprop

It is obvious who you are--the young woman who directs the ODM home for single moms. Your personal knowledge of the owners of 740 and 750 clarkson and your European spelling of "neighbors" are a giveaway. Is is not so difficult for a family to live in the houses on this block. we're already here. Every one of the houses on this block is owner occupied. We purchased our homes for a chosen urban life, on a RESIDENTIAL blockn not to have it invaded by commercial use and a halfway house which violates the established spacing ordinance. We're not a bunch of stuck-up yuppies, we want our street tobe a healthy, safe and secure place for our children and grandchildren. Would you buy a house next door to a treatment facility for recovering substance abusers? The damage done to our lives and futures is enormous--financially and functionally. Have you ever considered anyone's lives other than your own narrow view of life. Our "grace."has run out.

Jason
Jason

700k is well within the budget for a single family who enjoys all the great things that city living has to offer. Many of the homes on that block are single family owned and worth well more than that. But how can you expect a single family with young children to invest that much in a home in the area to then be stabbed in the back by the city. Which is just the case here, that facility would hurt the safety and make up of the area not to mention that single family who purchased in the neighborhood will lose up to 30% of their home value. There are plenty of other areas they can put their facility they don't need to further burden that area. Walk around the neighborhood there are beautiful historic homes that families have put a lot of time and money into preserving. The city needs to help support them not hurt them.

 
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