Rocky Makes Way For Jail

The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News have had a joint operating agreement since 2001, but next week, it will begin to materialize in brick and mortar as the Rocky’s business department moves from its existing location between 14th and Colfax in downtown Denver, to their newly constructed offices overlooking Civic Center Park on August 7th.  Some departments will move a week later.  Here at Colorado Confidential, we are ambivalent, because office buildings and dead trees are for sissies.

The old Rocky Mountain News building will be demolished to make way for a new Denver Justice Center, approved by voters on May 3, 2005, which will include both jail facilities and criminal courts.  There are now more than 2,000 inmates in facilities designed for 1,672, and some county courtrooms are housed in rented space.  Construction at the Rocky Mountain New building site will begin this year.  The new Justice center should open, at least partially, in 2010, at which point some construction will commence at the Havanna Road jail. 

In addition to reducing crowding, the new facility will also dramatically reduce costs associated with transporting inmates from the current facility on Havanna Street to the courts downtown.  It is also hoped that the safety of people involved in non-criminal cases will be enhanced by having criminal courts at a separate facility.

Jails house inmates who have not been convicted but are being held while they await trial, people convicted of misdemeanors who are serving their sentences, and convicted felons awaiting transfer to state prison where longer prison sentences for felons are served.  When the new facility is completed, only inmates who have actually been convicted will be housed in the Havanna road facility.

Four general contacting firms have placed bids on the courthouse part of the project.  Two have placed bids on the jail part of the project.  Steven Holll Architects and klipp Design have been selected as the Courthouse design team.  Hartman Cox and Oz Architecture have been selected as the Detention Facility design team.

An earlier proposal to build a Justice Center a roughly the intersection of I-25 and Highway 6 during Wellington Webb’s Mayoral administration narrowly failed at the polls in the face of resistence from neighbors, who saw it as an attempt to place an undesirable use in their lower income, predominantly Hispanic Baker neighborhood.

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