Building a Permanent Home for the League and a Place in Denver for Members Across the State
This is the sixth story in a series of eight, celebrating the Colorado Municipal League’s dedication to serving Colorado’s municipalities over the last century.
“For 75 years, Colorado has benefited from the support and resources CML has provided to local communities. Through the League’s efforts, the communities it serves have gained technical support, training and forums to help deal with the issues that affect citizens from day-to-day.Former Governor Roy Romer, October 22, 1998
It is appropriate that your new home is located in the Capitol Hill area’s Sherman-Grant Historic District – this community has a rich heritage that will be enhanced by the League’s presence. The new facility’s expanded capacity will be an added advantage as CML continues to serve Colorado.”
For 75 years, the League lived as a nomad, calling several buildings home as it moved from Boulder to Wheat Ridge to various sites in Denver. A permanent location was long overdue by the time the League found a plot of land in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
In 1981, the CML Executive Board purchased land at 1144 Sherman St. with the intention of constructing a League office building. The Executive Board and staff received administrative and legal assistance from Bond Underwriter George K. Baum and Special Counsel to the League Dorsey Whitney.
This piece of land was desirable for several reasons: the League’s advocacy team would be able to access the State Capitol more easily; League members would be able to continue work while traveling to the Capitol; and it would serve as a symbol of the League’s permanence and commitment to serving Colorado’s cities and towns. However, market conditions put a pause on construction.
The League held onto the land, which was a parking lot, for over five years. Then, in 1996, the Executive Board and staff were forced to look toward the future. The League’s lease was ending, and it had to go somewhere. The Board took its second step toward building the League’s new home, authorizing staff to move forward with preliminary building feasibility work.
Initial plans for the building were presented to League membership at the June 1997 Annual Business Meeting with an important note—since the League already owned the site and was able to bring additional resources to the project, its new home would be built without dues increases or a special assessment from membership. Membership was excited about this new development.
As building design began, the League paid attention to several important features of the building: It had to be built in a fashion that fit in the surrounding Capitol Hill neighborhood, it had to have the features necessary to serve Colorado’s cities and towns, and it would use advanced technologies for energy efficiency.
While each of these points was important, the League’s biggest priority was its membership. The building would be the League’s new home, but it was built for more than staff. The League was adamant that it be built for its members, as a place that would encourage collaboration through training and meetings and a place where members could stop and take care of themselves while traveling through the state. This priority is reflected in how the League celebrated the building’s development, and its design.
On February 11, 1998, the League celebrated groundbreaking. This momentous occasion came after an 18-month process of establishing the feasibility of the project, designing the building site, bidding out the construction contract, and obtaining financing for the project. The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) was instrumental in the financing of the building’s construction.
Construction moved quickly, and the League’s new neighbors watched as its red stone structure began to rise. The League ensured the building would serve its members in a number of ways:
- A conference center—Two conference rooms were built to ensure the League could host conferences and trainings for up to 100 people in its new home
- Municipal service center—A room dedicated to municipal officials who need space to work while conducting business in Denver
- CML offices—Offices that would serve the needs of current League staff and future expansion
- A resource center—A reconfigured and enlarged library and data center to help CML better manage municipal resources and information
- Parking spaces—48 spaces for League members to use when visiting Denver
To this day, members are invited to work from the League’s building and use its parking to avoid searching for a spot on Denver’s streets. Members are also invited to host meetings in the building. The building’s design was forward-thinking and has helped the League and its members continue to serve Colorado’s cities and towns.
On October 22, 1998, the League hosted a grand opening to introduce Colorado cities and towns to the League’s new home. Immediately becoming a recognizable landmark in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, the red building symbolized a long history of serving Colorado’s cities and towns through collaboration and a commitment to continue doing so long into the future. The League dedicated the building to its members and established it as a place where they are always welcome.
The grand opening was a milestone in CML history, and the League did not squander its opportunity to celebrate. Through the CML Newsletter, the League invited anyone who received the publication and all municipal officials to attend. Several hundred guests attended the official grand opening and ribbon cutting.
Nearly a decade later, in 2007, the League’s mortgage financing arrangement with CHFA was completely paid off, making the League and membership official owners of the building.
Another decade passed and the League continued working to make the building the best it could be, undergoing major renovations that would ultimately result in the construction of what members now refer to as the Main Street Conference Room and a few more staff offices. We are especially proud of the John Fielder photography which adorns the entrance to the conference room. As the League looks to the future, it will continue to explore renovations to meet members’ needs.
A Symbol of History and the Future
In 1998, the League touted a new home with “state-of-the-art energy efficiency and renewable energy technology.”
The League received funds from the Colorado Governor’s Office of Energy Conservation to explore opportunities for incorporating energy efficiency and renewable energy technology into the building.
The League worked with Enermodal Engineering, Inc., Adams Mendel Allison Construction, Barker Rinker Seacat & Partners, Reese Engineering, and DMJM to apply these technologies to the building. By the time it was finished, the building included indirect lighting, lighting controls, high-performance glazing, and skylights with photovoltaic panels.
- Indirect lighting was predicted to save the League $1,000 in electricity costs per year, in addition to replacing fewer lamps and lowering air conditioning levels.
- Lighting controls and skylights helped cut down on electricity by ensuring lights only turned on when lighting was low, or a person entered the room. These also helped save on lamp replacements and air conditioning. The League also acquired a new lighting controller in 1999. Visitors and staff can still find CML executive director Kevin Bommer, who started in 1999 as a staff associate before becoming a lobbyist in 2000, roaming the building in the early evening hours, flipping switches to turn out all the lights.
- Additional glazing to cut down on cooling costs by trapping air in and requiring less power.
League visitors couldn’t miss learning about these new technologies. Signage was posted around the building to bring attention to them, and a brochure was developed for those interested in learning more.
While the building’s technology might’ve been forward thinking, its dedication was grounded in the League’s history. Just inside the front door, a bronze dedication plaque reads:
“This building is dedicated to past, present and future city and town officials throughout Colorado for their services to the citizens of this state.”
The Colorado Municipal League’s building is a testament to the valuable history of our cities and towns across the state, and their commitment to growing and innovating. Without the League’s members, the League’s home would not be what it is today.
Honoring a Historic Figure in CML’s History
When Ken Bueche retired as CML’s Executive Director in 2005, the CML Executive Board wanted to honor his vision and legacy. Bueche first came to the league as a law clerk in 1963. After a brief stint in private practice, he returned to the League as general counsel in 1968, and was appointed executive director in 1974.
The building at 1144 Sherman Street would not exist had it not been for Ken’s firm belief that CML needed a permanent home. After leaving the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1956, the League remained in Boulder for a number of years. CML officed in Wheat Ridge and a handful of locations in Denver, the last of which was 1660 Lincoln Street, and purchased the land on Sherman Street in the early 1990’s. In 1997, the Board approved the staff’s recommendation to construct a permanent home for CML on the Sherman Street property, and CML moved for the last time in 1998.
Upon Ken’s retirement, the CML Executive Board could think of no more fitting honor than to name the building the Ken Bueche Municipal League Building. The honor was kept secret from Ken until the plaque that now hangs in the lobby was unveiled at Ken’s retirement reception at Four Mile Park in Glendale.
The Ken Bueche Municipal League Building stands as a monument to Ken’s nearly 40 years of visionary leadership of CML.