Best Way to Save the El Jebel Shrine Temple (2001)

Build a fifty-story tower on the parking lot

The El Jebel Shrine Temple was designed in 1906 by the Baerresen brothers, Denver's kookiest early architects. The Shrine is a former Masonic temple, but it looks like an Arabian Nights fantasy plopped smack-dab in the middle of Capitol Hill. And like many good things in Denver, it's been in danger of falling into the hands of developers who would just as soon demolish it as cherish it. But now Denver developers Wes Becker and Martin Wohnlich may be coming to the rescue. They recently paid $3.9 million -- a steal considering all the barrel vaults and gold-painted plaster work inside -- to buy the building (the former home of the Eulipions theater group), with plans to preserve the many gorgeous interior spaces. To do so, though, they need the money that would be generated by building a fifty-story tower on what is now a parking lot next door to the temple. And they've taken a sensible, sensitive approach to that, too: They've already hired local architect David Owen Tryba to design the tower and supervise the restoration of the old building.

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