Archive of Prominent Section 106 Cases
Colorado: KMM Parking Structure (Black Hawk)
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In September, the Council received a determination from the Omaha District, Army Corps of Engineers, that the Central City-Black Hawk Historic District would not be adversely affected by issuance of a Section 404, wetlands-fill permit to KMM Parking, LLC, for a parking structure. The town of Black Hawk is one of three 19th-century mining towns in the mountains of Colorado with legal, limited stakes gambling. The historic district is a designated National Historic Landmark and is included on the "most endangered" lists of both the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Colorado Preservation, Inc. The proposed Main Street parking garage, which would serve adjacent casinos, would be five stories tall and about a block long.
An informal meeting between the Council, the Corps, the Colorado SHPO, and the applicant was held. The Corps reaffirmed its finding that the proposed project would have no adverse effect on the historic district, noting that no historic properties are located immediately nearby or on the site of the proposed project. In a letter dated October 5, 1998, the Council objected to that determination, agreeing with the Colorado SHPO that the proposed project would not be in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties, since it was out of character with the scale of the historic district. The Council also based its objection on the project's potential to change the historic configuration of Main Street, alter the natural topography and environment of the district, and contribute to further development pressures on the district.
Of the three historic mining towns in Colorado where gambling is legal, Black Hawk has been changed by the gaming industry most dramatically. Black Hawk has lost most of its historic properties and numerous large-scale casino buildings have been built in their place. Black Hawk's wooded mountain setting, which is tied to its identity as a mining community, has also been significantly altered.
Most recent development in the community has not involved Federal funds or permits, and this pattern will probably continue in the future. Under these circumstances, Section 106 consultation for this project must address whether Black Hawk's remaining historic properties and the public in general would be better served by off-site mitigation rather than design changes to this individual project. Traditional historic preservation policies and approaches are challenged by the realities of Black Hawk's gaming-dependent economy, the town's radical transformation, and the fragile survival of its remaining historic properties.
It is anticipated that the Army Corps of Engineers will initiate consultation with the Council and the Colorado SHPO shortly.
Staff contact: Marjorie Nowick
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