Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Evan Makovsky, Colorado Preservation honoree, saved El Chapultepec: Will trains be next?

While the truncated 4/20 festivities have turned Civic Center Park into ground zero for a discussion of which events are a First Amendment exercise and which are commercial, the Civic Center Conservancy will soon take a pot-free breather. On May 8, the Civic Center Conservancy, Historic Denver Inc. and Denver Parks and Recreation will share a 2012 State Honor Award at Colorado Preservation's Dana Crawford Awards at History Colorado. But the biggest award of the evening will go to Evan Makovsky, a developer who may become the landlord for some historic model trains.

Makovsky, a quixotic developer featured in our 2007 cover story "Evan Almighty," will receive the 23rd annual Dana Crawford Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation "for collaboratively creating a radically different Downtown Denver Historic District; for saving the Colorado Business Bank Building from the wrecking ball and then restoring it beautifully; for being an 'urban hero' for his foresight, perseverance and dedication to the Fontius project; for balancing the Fontius building's historical elements with its current and future energy needs; for being driven by the need to do something that has a positive impact on society," according to Colorado Preservation.

Not mentioned is perhaps Makovsky's most noble, and certainly least noticed, achievement of all: After Jerry Kranz, the owner of El Chapultepec, passed away last May, Makovsky bought the building at 1962 Market Street so that his family could continue to run the legendary jazz club, in a bar that opened the day after Prohibition ended.

And Makovsky could soon be the landlord of another local institution -- the model train layouts that could be getting the boot from the Union Station basement, where one has been for 78 years, the other for 34. "In an effort to renovate the building and to create a safe environment for future patrons, we must ask these train clubs to move from the building," reads a statement from the Union Station Alliance, which is developing Union Station. "In an effort to show our ongoing support of the model train clubs, we are working with the clubs to find acceptable space for the storage and potential permanent exhibition permanent space, we have offered the basement of the Sage Building on 16th & Welton downtown."

That building is Makovsky's Fontius project, cited in his Dana Crawford Award; Sage, one of the partners in the Union Station Alliance, is the major tenant. Another partner in USA? Dana Crawford.

Although spokespeople for both the model train clubs that have been based in the Union Station basement -- one for three decades, one for close to eight -- say they haven't heard officially from USA about the Sage Building possibility, Makovsky has pulled off tougher projects.

All aboard.

From the "Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive:Union Station developers give beloved train layout the boot."

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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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