Historic West Highland Zen Temple goes off the Market

The historic West Highland building that houses the Zen Center of Denver went on the market yesterday.

The 17,090-square-foot building at 3101 W. 31st Ave., built in 1920 near the intersection of Speer and Federal Boulevards, represents one of the first commissions by renowned architect Burnham F. Hoyt, who is best known as the architect of the Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Hoyt also designed such landmarks as the Central Denver Public Library and the State Capitol Annex Building.

Hoyt designed what is now the Zen Center for the Fourth Church of Christ Scientist. The church sold it to the Zen Center in 1998, making it only the second owner.

The building, which includes an adjacent11,492-square-foot parking lot at 3055 Speer Blvd., is being listed by Billy Riesing of Pinnacle Real Estate Advisors.

The lot is zoned U-MX-3, which would allow a three-story, mixed-use building that could include housing, retail or office components.

Both properties are being sold together.

“We are going to market with an undisclosed list price,” Riesing said.

“It is such a very unique building with some various potential buyer profiles that we felt it was best to bring it to market.”

After 60 days, they will consider the best offers.

Riesing has been meeting with the non-profit owners of the parcel for about a year.

“They are just an amazing group,” he said. “They do a lot of different meditation and seminars and retreats.”

Why are they selling?

“Ultimately, they absolutely love the building,” Riesing said.

“But they wanted to find something more conducive for their needs. And given the strength of that whole West Highland neighborhood, which is one of the hottest and most popular areas is all of central Denver, they their timing was per rect to take advantage of the strong market and sell.”

He said a potential buyer could range from a religious organization to historic developers.

“I think there are a handful of select groups out there that do very well and have a strong track record of historic redevelopments that could position this building for an entirely different use,” Riesing said.

“There are some very sophisticated investment groups out there that I think will be extremely interested in this site,” he continued.

The buyer could redevelop the 73-space parking lot or could keep it for parking, at least initially, he said.

“The parking lots bring a value-add component to this deal,” Riesing said.

“The parking lot has short-term or long-term value,” he said. “The next owner might want to develop it right away. The U-MX-3 zoning is pretty flexible, allowing a number of uses. Or, someone could continue to use it as parking, with the idea of redeveloping it in five or 10 years, let’s say.”

Whoever buys it, will not be able to raze the historic structure or make major architectural changes to it.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in April 2004.

The Renaissance Revival style showcases detailed masonry craftsmanship, vaulted ceilings, colored glass panes, a “breath-taking “amphitheater with a double-shelled skylight, and an Austin Pipe Organ with Echo Loft, he said.

The building has received funding from the state’s Historical Trust and there are covenants in place restricting what can be done in the interior, he said.

“Whoever buys it would need to understand the limitations in place because of the State Historical Funding,” Riesing said.

“But anybody who sees the gorgeous interior would want to preserve it,” he said.

“The exterior, of course, can’t be touched except for needed maintenance,” he said. “While Burnham F. Hoyt is best known for Red Rocks, he did a lot more than that. It is is unfortunate that some of his buildings have been torn down over the years.”

He said the building took about eight years to build.

“It’s going to be standing long after all of us are gone,” Riesing said. “It’s an amazing building and the sellers want to find the perfect buyer for it. It’s truly a masterpiece.”

On a personal level, Riesing meditates, but he said that played no role in him landing the assignment.

“It never came up,” he said.

Rather, he said, Pinnacle was chosen because of its knowledge of the local market and its extensive list of local and national contacts.

Source: Land Title Guarantee