Construction Watch

Bosler House's New Owners to Restore Abused, Neglected Denver Landmark

There's a new chapter to a long-running northwest-side story: This morning,  buyers are slated to sign a deal for the sale of the Bosler house, the circa 1875 mansion at 3209 West Fairview Place, right off Federal Boulevard — and they plan to restore the building. Designated a Denver landmark in 1984, it was purchased by Keith Painter in 1987, and the results haven't been pretty.

To pop the top, Painter removed part of the roof in 2008 without proper permitting and landmark permission, according to Historic Denver, and received a stop-work order from the city. In late 2010, with the house still open to the elements, Painter asked the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission to allow him to demolish the building, pleading economic hardship. The commission refused, rightly: When you buy a Denver Historic Landmark, you're supposed to preserve the place, not wipe it off the map. Over the next five years, the house continued to collect snow and rain — while Painter, who was ordered to repair the hole by the city, started collecting fines of $999 per day on May 8, 2013. 

In May 2015, after the accumulation of city-imposed fines passed the house’s assessed value of just under $500,000, Denver filed to foreclose on the property “in an effort to ensure the rehabilitation and preservation of the historic building,” according to the Denver Department of Community Planning and Development. “Attempts to work with the owner to bring the property into compliance with city maintenance and historic preservation requirements have not been successful, and the property has amassed $560,000 in liens.” A receiver was appointed as caretaker, and a History Colorado grant covered a study of the house's condition.

That assessment determined that the house was in "fair to poor" condition, and estimated the cost of restoring it at $1.75 million. With that daunting figure in hand, last month the receiver went to court to get a judge's approval to list the house for sale.

This morning, Steve and Jan Davis purchased the house for $375,000. Per a settlement agreement, $150,000 will go toward the City and County of Denver for unpaid liens and fines; about $75,000 will be paid to the receiver for already-performed property management, maintenance and contracted architectural services, and Painter will receive the rest.

The Davises moved to north Denver from a big house near Parker five years ago and have been "taking old houses apart and putting them back together" ever since, says Betty Luce of Nostalgic Homes, an old-house enthusiast who handled the deal. "Steve has deep experience as a contractor."

He'll need it, as he and his wife, a master gardener, work to restore the Bosler house — named after Ambrose Bosler, one of the founders of the town of Highland Park that was later absorbed into Denver — to the showplace it once was, and could be again.

Painter will have a good view of the action: He continues to live right across the street.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun

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