Chicano Humanities & Arts Council finds new home in Lakewood after being sold to Santa Fe
DENVER — This story begins in 2010.
A Chicano Humanities and Arts Council (CHAC) board member told Denver7 that the owner of the building they were in in Santa Fe offered to sell the building to them for $500,000. The band didn’t have the money to buy it, so they waited until 2018. By then, they say, the price had skyrocketed to $1.5 million, forcing them to look for a new one. House.
“It was difficult for us. We had to move simply because the price was too high,” said Lucille Rivera, vice chair of the board of the Chicano Humanities and Art Council.
Rivera was then executive director of CASC. Running out of options, CHAC had to find a new home. The group sets up near the corner of 2nd Avenue and Santa Fe.
“It was a very nice building, but we had to do a lot of work,” Rivera said.
After investing its own money in the building, CASC was beginning to settle until the pandemic created another curve and made its $4,000 rent hard to swallow.
“Without the ability to earn money, how can you maintain that? said Brenda Gurule, CASC’s Executive Director.
The group started conversations with their landlord, who didn’t want to lower the rent. Eventually, they had no choice but to close their doors and move.
“It was the only way for the organization to survive on the money we had in the bank, if we continued to pay rent of $4,000 a month for an empty building,” Gurule said.
An art center filled with Chicano art, celebrating Denver’s rich history no longer had a home.
“We got relief funds. We started doing virtual programming. And then eventually we started to partner with other organizations, and that’s what kept us alive,” Gurule said.
Months later they opened in small art galleries in Northglenn and other areas around the metro. Recently, they signed a new lease for a building in the artistic district of Lakewood.
Their old home is a shadow of what it once was.
“I think they’re trying to make everything new and hip and, you know, putting condos and apartments all over the place and pricing these little little arts organizations, when the arts organization is what got it made it cool initially,” Gurule said. .
Some art galleries that are still in Santa Fe agree.
“It’s probably happened to about nine or ten galleries here,” said Richard Dotson, director of Grace Gallery Fine Art.
Dotson says he lost his neighbor across the street after his rent rose exponentially.
“Alan was there with Artwork Network, and the guy eventually raised his rent to $15,000 a month. And his lease was coming up and when it came up, Alan found out the guy wanted $5,000 $ more per month for that. So it’s going to go up to $20,000 per month,” Dotson said.
Although the Arts District has changed and forced many longtime residents to relocate, there is still hope that some artistic presence will endure.
“Until you keep scratching us and turning us into big condo complexes and apartment complexes, we’ll be here,” Dotson said.
CASC says it will move into the new Lakewood building in April and plans to open to the public in June.