Columbine, We Meet Again

We’ve purchased a property!

After a great deal of sangha discussion and consideration, the ZCD’s board of directors has voted to proceed with the purchase of a 12,000-square-foot property at the corner of South Columbine Street and Buchtel Boulevard, not far from the University of Denver campus. (Old-timers may note with some amusement our return to Columbine Street, where the ZCD’s original temple was founded in 1974.)

With this purchase, we may now move forward in planning the construction of a new Zen temple tailored to our needs. It must be said at the outset that we are only in the preliminary phases of this process, and many questions of cost and feasibility remain. It must also be said that there remains a possibility – a small one, perhaps, but a possibility – that we may yet encounter insuperable problems that prevent us from building as planned. However, given the strong Denver real estate market, the board believes the purchase presents limited financial risk to the Center in the event we decide to sell rather than build.

Disclaimer aside, the Columbine property offers many advantages for our sangha. At 12,000 square feet it is fairly sizable, allowing a building footprint of about 4,300 square feet with plenty of space remaining for a garden and up to nine or ten parking spaces off the alley. The building footprint should allow us to fulfill our base requirements on a wheelchair-accessible first level, including a 1,500-square-foot zendo and ancillary spaces such as dokusan rooms, bathrooms, kitchen, foyer and dining room.

Auxiliary spaces needed for sesshin, such as dorms and showers, would require the addition of a second floor. While we will certainly investigate these costs, it is possible we will not be able to afford the additional square footage with the funds on hand, and the board is firmly committed to avoiding taking on any debt. This being the case, the ability to hold overnight retreats may have to wait on a second phase of construction at some point in the future.

Even so, we are confident we can build a beautiful temple exceptionally well suited to our daily practice needs, while continuing to hold sesshin off-site as needed. The Columbine property is very accessible via most modes of transportation, including by car (via I-25), light rail, bus and bicycle. As our current practice spaces (the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center and Mayu Sanctuary) are both located nearby, we enter the purchase with some assurance that most members will not be too inconvenienced by the new location.

Already placed in a quiet neighborhood, the property is bounded on its south side by Prairie Park (pictured above), a narrow stretch of open grassland that rings with cicadas in the summer and fall. Perhaps a year or two from now we may accompany them with the ringing of densho and keisu.

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