The overhaul of the former Gates Rubber Co site into a $1 billion transit-oriented development has gone off-track for the moment thanks to a mysterious move by builder Joseph Freed and Associates to “create a different relationship” with master developer Cherokee Denver, which owns the site.
Freed senior vice president Steve Jacobsen explains it like this: “Because of the current market conditions and the way the market is right now, the arrangement we previously had with Cherokee had to change. The land contract has expired and we are in the process of creating a new arrangement.”
If that arrangement involves not paying subcontractors for the millions of dollars of engineering and demolition that have already taken place on the western-most end of the site, said relationships could become strained.
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It also means that the oldest and most visually intriguing of the Gates buildings could get a brief stay of execution from the wrecking ball. In December, when Westword published an article about Johnny Polzin’s tragic fall down an open elevator shaft and his subsequent death, Cherokee representatives said they hoped to have the buildings knocked down by late spring or early summer. But as of yet, no demolition permits have been filed with the city. A lawsuit that the Polzin family has threatened against Cherokee and various subcontractors for negligence regarding the open shaft is also still in negotiation.
Local photographer Brigid McAuliffe (who moonlights as a member of Bela Karoli) spent the summer trying understand the Gates factory from an aesthetic perspective. She describes her interest as both a practical look at urban renewal and historic preservation and an emotional journey through architectural memory.
“I was originally drawn to the windows and wires, and the compositions I saw.. from strictly an industrial context,” she explains. "When I heard the factory was being demolished, these photographs and my video extended to historical preservation of a space that once held great significance in this area.”
She will be showing some of her images at throughout March at City O' City, with an opening tonight, February 29, at 7 p.m. And on March 6, McAuliffe will be presenting the video footage of the demolition as a background to an experimental musical collaboration titled RECESS that will debut at the Lion’s Lair. -- Jared Jacang Maher