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Anyone could help save Tom's Diner from demolition

The city of Denver has declared Tom’s Diner ‘potentially historic.’ That designation won’t save it from demolition quite yet.
Credit: Ken C. via Yelp

If no one applies for Tom’s Diner to be named a historic landmark by June 7, there’s nothing stopping developers from tearing the 52-year-old building down for at least five years.

Denver’s Landmark Preservation Commission declared the diner at 601 E. Colfax Ave ‘potentially historic’ on Friday. That opened a 21-day period when anyone in the community can apply for a landmark designation for the building.

Tom's Diner would be dubbed non-historic if the city doesn’t receive any applications by June 7. That status would allow a demolition or remodel of the building within the next five years, according to the city.

If an application is submitted on behalf of the diner in time, Denver City Council would consider if it should be named a historic landmark. The Planning and Development office said that designation would keep the building standing as is.

Greenwood Village-based developer Alberta Development Partners started this process by applying for a non-historic status for the site earlier this month. The developer said it created a mock-up concept to replace Tom’s Diner with an eight-story apartment complex. That idea could change once Alberta submits a formal plan for Denver to review.

RELATED: What's next for Tom's Diner? Conceptual plan calls for 8-story apartment complex

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The city’s Landmark Preservation Commission named the diner potentially historic based on three criteria: its history, architecture, and geography.

The building was one of the White Spot restaurants before it was Tom’s Diner. William Clements developed the White Spot chain in the 1960s. His role in developing the dining industry in Denver made the building potentially eligible in the history category, according to the staff review.

City officials wrote they also found the diner is an example of the culturally significant yet disappearing Googie architecture. That would potentially fill the architecture criteria. The review said, “Googie architecture combined the car culture and futurism of mid-20th century America into a popular and engaging form of commercial architecture."

For the geography criteria, the Landmark Preservation Commission wrote Tom’s Diner is potentially eligible since it’s a prominent building on E. Colfax.

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