A Denver auto repair shop that has been in business for decades, some 70 years in fact, is now surrounded by new development.
Owner Steve Mancinelli said after all of these years, he now has a very uncertain future.
Mancinelli has been working in the shadows of two new high-rise apartment buildings at Speer and Logan, right across the street from 9NEWS, for months now.
He said he has no idea what's coming next for him, or his business.
Curiously, on the face of it, you would think Mancinelli's Auto Repair is in the proverbial cat bird seat.
The business sits in the actual footprint of the two enormous structures, one on the left and one on the right, the cranes directly overhead. They are so close that in the winter, Mancinelli said he needs to watch for falling ice.
"Yep, ice falling off the cranes," Mancinelli said. "There's heavy equipment coming across the property because of the logistics of how they get this equipment in and out is pretty tenuous for them. It can be pretty disruptive.”
But he has been very cooperative, accommodating all the construction and inconvenience, and even doing repair work on the cars of the developers.
Steve Kelsey with Holland Development, managing one of the large structures, said his company loves Mancinelli and they wish him well, but they currently have no need for his property.
Instead, they are going right around him. The Mill Creek Residential Trust, building the second high rise, did in fact make an offer on the property, but Mancinelli said he had no choice but to turn it down.
"They did make kind of a half-hearted offer, and spoke over coffee maybe 15-minutes, and that was the extent of it," Mancinelli said.
The offer was not enough to cover his losses, Mancinelli said. That developer is also building around his shop. And now comes a new problem for Mancinelli: A tax conundrum, fueled by the new buildings that now surround him, which will open to buyers with big-ticket rents.
"I was told by supervisors at both locations that studio apartments are going to begin at $1,900," Mancinelli said.
And no one can tell him how much more the penthouse apartments will rent for. That means Mancinelli's property now sits in a high-rent district, and his taxes are starting to climb.
"The assessed value in essence doubled in a two-year period of time, so you know, that's going to double my property taxes as well," Mancinelli, who is appealing the tax hikes.
If he’s unsuccessful, and his taxes keep going up, Mancinelli knows he'll be pushed out.
"It would definitely render this property, as far as a repair shop goes, it's not its best use," he said.
Now caught in a dilemma, Mancinelli is wondering how long he can hang on.
"I mean for all the time that I still have remaining, I mean, I'm not at retirement age, I don't know what else I'd do. It's been my life and I really enjoy it," he said.
At the moment, he is trapped in a circumstance not of his making, another small Denver business owner, hoping to avoid being pushed aside by the relentless march of new development in a burgeoning city.
Mancinelli said he would skip a better buy-out offer if his taxes would just stabilize. He doesn't mind paying his fair share, but he feels he's now being penalized simply because of what's being built around him.
The one key development that could change the game for Mancinelli is a tiny alley right next to his shop. If the city decides the two developers building around him need that alley for access, and if that impacts their permits, it could be a game changer for the tiny service shop.
That one key decision could mean that Mancinelli would get the money he needs to stay open, or the ability to move on, depending on what will be required of his two new giant neighbors.
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