Nov 7, 2023 - Development

Scoop: Denver's historic Aztlan Theatre is for sale

The Aztlan Theatre pictured on Nov. 7. Photo: Alayna Alvarez/Axios

The owner of Denver's historic Aztlan Theatre on Santa Fe Drive is closing the curtain and putting up a "for sale" sign, Axios Denver has learned.

Why it matters: The landmark building, nestled near one of the city's oldest and predominantly Latino neighborhoods, has served as a hub for the Chicano community for decades.

Details: Timeo Correa — a longtime activist in the Chicano movement, who bought the iconic spot in 1972 — has flirted with the idea of turning over the reins for years. But this time it's real, he says.

  • He's "looking at $5 million" for it, a significant jump from the price point it sold for 51 years ago — a number Correa is keeping secret.

What they're saying: Between getting older and wrestling with rising taxes, "I can't run it anymore as I could before," Correa, who's now over 80, tells us.

  • "It's hard to let it go. I think I've been dragging my feet the last 10 years," he says with a laugh.

Flashback: At its prime, the Aztlan was a hotspot for catching unique feature films and up-and-coming bands, many of which exploded in popularity, like Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rocky Mountain PBS reports.

  • As an activist, Correa also transformed the theater into a haven for the Chicano community. One year, he invited Mexican-American actor Edward James Olmos to the Aztlan to speak with troubled local high school students about gang violence.
  • "I did a lot of those events to help people out," Correa recalls.

The other side: In recent years, the theater has sat underused and in need of significant repairs. Some local leaders have called it an "eyesore."

  • Meanwhile, developers chomping at the bit to buy the building — and land — for years have been frustrated by Correa's refusal to sell.

What's next: Correa hopes he can pass on the space to someone with cultural ties to the theater and a shared vision for restoring the ornate details that once drew so many Denverites through its doors.

  • "I'd like to see some Chicanos or Mexicanos get in there and keep the entertainment center alive … so the big developers don't come in and raze it," he says.

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