Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Michael Hancock recommends spreading Better Denver bonds to Boettcher, Red Rocks and more

Back in 2007, Denver residents voted for an alphabet soup of nine civic improvements. While almost all of those bond-backed Better Denver projects are done (with signs to prove it), much of the money from G and H, earmarked for maintenance and construction of cultural facilities, including an update of Boettcher Concert Hall, has gone unspent.

That's largely because H was focused on a project to replace Boettcher Concert Hall, a $90 million plan that required the Colorado Symphony Orchestra to raise $30 million of the total.That project was stalled by financial problems at the CSO -- and when the CSO started its comeback, the city lifted the matching-funds requirement. But that wasn't the only change.

The city also invited other cultural outfits to submit proposals for projects that would use G and H money, and a dozen did -- including the National Western Stock Show.

A Cultural Facilities Steering Committee reviewed the proposals, and yesterday, Mayor Michael B. Hancock recommended to Denver City Council which projects should receive the remaining cultural bond funds from the Better Denver Bond Program -- for a total of $57,126,000.

The Stock Show did not make the cut.

"Denver is consistently recognized for our high-quality cultural facilities that help uphold the spirit of our smart city. As the voters intended in 2007, these funds will help maintain and improve these cherished facilities," Hancock said in releasing the list. "We have focused the last remaining funds on advancing our facilities while staying true to the authorized intent of these critical investments."

Question G related to deferred maintenance for city-owned cultural facilities; $18,497,001 remained in the kitty. Question H related to financing the cost of new construction of city-owned cultural facilities; the amount remaining there is $38,629,205.

Here's how the proposed allocation breaks down:

Boettcher Concert Hall -- Improvements $6,700,000 (from G) $10,075,000 (from H)

Denver Performing Arts Complex -- Champa Street Bridge $2,500,000 (from H)

Denver Art Museum -- Ponti Building $3,000,000 (from H)

Denver Botanic Gardens -- Café & Restrooms and Science Pyramid $6,619,000 (from H)

Denver Center for the Performing Arts -- Deferred Maintenance $9,932,000 (from G)

Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Denver Zoo -- Parking $4,400,000 (from H)

Levitt Pavilion Amphitheatre (Ruby Hill) $2,000,000 (from H)

McNichols Building -- Improvements $700,000 (from G) $4,800,000 (from H)

Red Rocks Amphitheater -- Water Supply and Concession $2,800,000 (from H)

TOTAL $53,526,000: $17,332,000 (from H), $36,194,000 (from G)

Stephanie O'Malley, deputy chief of staff, led the effort of the steering committee, which also included councilwoman Peggy Lehmann; George Delaney, COO of Denver Department of Public Works; Dorothy Horrell, president of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation; Gretchen Hollrah, deputy chief financial officer for Denver; Maja Rosenquist, vice president of Mortenson Construction; and Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Welborn.

As part of its comeback, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra got a new, high-profile artistic advisor. Read more in "The Colorado Symphony Orchestra welcomes Andrew Litton into the fold."


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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