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New plans promise to preserve Tom's Diner

Owner makes deal with Cleveland company with plans to revamp site while preserving history

DENVER — In a fight that pitted the rights of a property owner versus the interests of preserving Denver history, plans announced Saturday have apparently put an end to the fight.

"We're way excited moving forward," Tom Messina, Tom's Diner owner, said. "It seems to be a win-win for everybody."

Tom's Diner has been around for 52 years and sits in a building with a unique design, according to Historic Denver's Executive Director Annie Levinsky.

"It was designed in the old Googie style of architecture which was really popular in the late 1960s and is very rare in Colorado," Levinsky said.

Earlier this year, Messina announced plans to retire and sell Tom's Diner to a company who proposed to demolish the building to make room for a multi-million dollar apartment complex. But, residents stepped in raising questions about preserving the history of the Colfax Avenue diner.

"This particular building though tells a special story and has a special place in Colfax history," Levinsky said.

Saturday, Messina and a Cleveland-based company, GBX, announced plans to reinvigorate the building of Tom's Diner with the expectation that the history of Tom's Diner will be preserved.

"We're gonna make some major changes to this corner and it's exciting," Messina said.

Levinsky and her organization actually initiated the deal by contacting GBX because of its mission in preserving historic buildings.

"We reached out to GBX," Levinsky said. "They had acquired and helped save a different building in Denver last year and we thought they might be able to help in this case, as well."

Final plans have not been announced. But, Messina says he is relieved that the controversy over his retirement plans is now finished.

"It was extremely frustrating. It didn't feel right," Messina said. "Life has a funny way of working out."

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