The Golden City Council has received two proposals for organizations that want to lease the historic Astor House in downtown Golden from the city and is now soliciting resident feedback as it moves forward with considering them.
The first of the two proposals was submitted by the Foothills Art Center and calls for the house to be renovated into a new community arts facility that would allow FAC to expand on its gallery offerings and resources for local community artists.
FAC’s proposal calls for the first floor of the house to be renovated into a flexible gallery and gathering space. There would also be a small kid’s corner space and the existing kitchen area would be maintained for cooking classes and other culinary programs as well as use by caterers during events at the facility.
The proposal describes the first floor as attracting the “widest variety and number of visitors” who will encounter offerings that will include rotating art exhibitions, interpretive elements that depict the history of the Astor House, a retail space featuring goods from local artists and an interactive art-making studio where visitors of all ages can do art projects.
The second floor, meanwhile, would include a recording studio for musicians with the remainder dedicated to an “open-studio” where artists could work on their art in a communal environment. Under the proposal, the third floor would be used for either FAC staff offices or facility storage.
FAC Executive Director Hassan Najjar said his organization is in the process of securing funding for the project, which it projects would cost $2.5 million, and hopes to secure a $500,000 loan from the Downtown Development Authority to help cover the costs of bringing the building up to code.
“We think that with our expertise, our experience and our vision for Astor House we would make a delightful addition to downtown and it would be an amazing expansion for us to do things we can’t do at our current location,” said Najjar.
The second proposal the city received was from the Golden Civic Foundation and calls for the house to become “an inclusive, flexible, and adaptable space that serves as a resource and economic development hub for community-serving organizations, businesses, and our residents.”
Under that plan, the first floor would be converted into two spaces for local organizations and nonprofits to host community events at no cost, including one that could accommodate as many as 60 people.
The second and third floors would then be converted into a “vibrant hub” for community non-profits that would include a mix of affordable offices and flexible co-working spaces for Golden’s nonprofits.
To illustrate the community benefit of such a space, Golden Civic Foundation Executive Director Heather Schneider brought up the example of a Golden resident looking to get more involved in the community.
“They could walk through the front door, they could participate in a city workshop that talks about the new volunteer database that they just launched to find the type of organization that they want to get involved with and then they could walk upstairs to instantly get connected with this organization,” said Schneider.
Following presentations from Najjar and Schneider at the Sept. 24 Golden city council meeting, the council adjourned into executive session to discuss what the next steps in the process would be. Those next steps have not been publicly announced.
“Council has a lot to discuss and tonight in executive session will be our first opportunity to have that discussion together,’ said Golden Mayor Laura Weinberg.