Buddhist temple

The large downtown Buddhist temple could be torn down (if it doesn’t become a Denver landmark first)

The public has until January 3 to decide.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

the Buddhist Tri-State Temple/Denver is looking to demolish its longtime building at 1947 Lawrence St. as part of its latest redevelopment of Sakura Square.

The temple was built in 1949 for the Denver Buddhist Church, which was founded in 1919 to serve the city’s small Japanese immigrant community. Prior to building the temple, the group had moved around the city for thirty years, according to a Denver Community Planning and Development document. The temple has also served as the headquarters of 36 Buddhist churches in Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado.

In the 1960s, the Tri-State Buddhist Church set out to redevelop the block on which the building stood, as part of the downtown redevelopment by the Denver Urban Development Authority. The congregation called the block Sakura Square and set out to build a combination of residential, commercial and community spaces. Development began in 1971 and was officially launched in 1973.

Almost 50 years later, the Buddhist Tri-State Temple/Denver is ready to support the redevelopment of the block again and build a new temple – if he can get permission from the city of Denver.

“As the aging structural and mechanical systems of Sakura Square and the Temple will soon reach the end of their economic life and will need to be replaced, the goal of the redevelopment is to reposition Sakura Square and the Temple for current and future generations.” , Sakura Square LLC , the company that owns the majority of the block, posted online. “The key element of the redevelopment is the construction of a new temple and community center which will be located on the block. The overall project will consist of a variety of uses which may include residential, retail, commercial, parking, as well as community uses that will showcase our Japanese American heritage and culture. In addition, an open plaza will be located on site for enhanced cultural and community programming. Sakura Square will continue to remain a hub for organizations wishing to participate in Japanese and Japanese-American cultural and community programming.

The Denver Buddhist Temple at 1947 Lawrence St. December 16, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

On November 10, 2021, the church filed an application for a certificate of eligibility for demolition.

“The Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple facility is over 70 years old and past its useful life,” said temple board chairman Chad Nitta. “For historical reasons, it is important to us that the Temple remains in Sakura Square. Our application to the CDE is just one step as we explore our options to build a new facility for our community and future generations. »

Landmark Preservation examined the structure and determined that it had the potential to be a Denver landmark. The agency wrote the building’s history, arguing that it could be preserved for the following reasons: its association with downtown redevelopment, how it serves as a source of pride for the Japanese-American community, and its association with the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple itself.

Yet it is the Temple itself that is ready to say goodbye.

Now people have until January 3, 2022 to let the city know they intend to landmark designation file. To do so, the community planning and development officer, a member of the city council, or three residents of the city and county of Denver must be on board. If they do, they still have 60 days to apply for designation. Assuming no one files a case, the temple would be eligible for demolition from January 4.