John Hickenlooper homeless?: No, but Cableland, mayor's official residence, to be sold

It's a tough real estate market -- but the City of Denver is still hoping to unload Cableland, a spectacular mansion donated by the late cable magnate Bill Daniels to serve as the official mayoral residence.

Not that either Wellington Webb or John Hickenlooper chose to live there. Instead, the facility has served as the setting for ritzy events. As onetime Westword staffer Stuart Steers wrote in "Bill's Crib," a 2004 piece about Cableland, "It's highly appropriate that the former home of one of Denver's most notorious playboys is now one of the city's best party spots."

Here's more inside scoop from Steers's piece:

Cable magnate Bill Daniels built the mansion, which he dubbed Cableland, on Shangri-La Drive in the Hilltop neighborhood in 1986, and the place is as over the top as the man who built it. Arriving guests walk past a two-story waterfall that cascades into a swimming pool and adjacent spa, and they're greeted at the front door by a sunken bar, which opens into an enormous living room capable of hosting hundreds of people.

The approximately 20,000-square-foot home had 88 television sets, 97 telephones, surround sound, a twelve-foot firefighter's pole (so visitors could slide from the master bedroom to the next floor), thirteen bathrooms and four kitchens. In Daniels's bedroom, the huge bed was covered in sable, and a wall of televisions enabled the cable king to keep a constant eye on his realm. Even the wildlife lived like royalty at Cableland: The birdbaths are heated and the squirrels have treetop condos.

Like all of Daniels's ventures, however, Cableland was about more than just excess. He said he wanted such a large house so that he could host fundraising parties for charity, and he kept his word. Hundreds of fundraisers were held there, and the house is still one of Denver's favorite places to party.

In 1998, Daniels gave the house to the City of Denver to serve as the official mayoral residence -- though he stipulated that possession couldn't occur until after his death, which happened in 2000. Neither former mayor Wellington Webb nor Mayor John Hickenlooper has chosen to live there, so the house is used as a full-time party palace for worthy nonprofits. Daniels left a $3 million endowment to cover maintenance costs.

Former Denver first lady Wilma Webb redecorated the manse in 2002, adding a large carpet with the city seal and a big photograph of Bill Daniels, which hangs near the door. She also arranged for the donation of a full set of elegant dinnerware from Tiffany & Co. -- a significant contribution for a dining room that can host more than thirty people. But despite Webb's political affiliations, she left the near-life-sized bronze sculpture of an elephant that towers over the living room as testimony to Daniels's devotion to the Republican Party.

The dough from a possible sale will go toward the Denver Scholarship Foundation. More information should be available at a midday announcement. The details, courtesy of the Mayor's Office:

Mayor Hickenlooper and Daniels Fund to announce agreement to sell Cableland

DENVER, CO -- Wednesday, May 19, 2010 -- Mayor John Hickenlooper and Linda Childears, president and CEO of the Daniels Fund, will announce today an agreement to sell Cableland and donate the proceeds to the Denver Scholarship Foundation.

WHEN: Noon, TODAY, May 19, 2010

WHERE: Cableland, 4150 Shangri La Drive, Denver

PARKING: Will be available on the Cableland driveway (enter at Leetsdale Drive and Cedar Avenue)

Cableland was gifted to the City in 1998 by Bill Daniels to serve as the Mayor's official residence and be utilized for certain civic and charitable purposes. An agreement at the time stated the property would revert to the Daniels Fund should it no longer serve the needs of the City.

The City and the Daniels Fund began meeting nearly two years ago to discuss the potential sale of the home after agreeing that Cableland could be put to a better use in furtherance of Bill Daniels' beneficent purposes. The Board of Directors of the Daniels Fund agreed that money from the sale of Cableland must go to the Denver Scholarship Foundation for use by eligible students who want to attend designated Colorado institutions of higher learning.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts