Tom’s Diner In Private Property Rights Battle Against Neighborhood Activists

Tom’s Diner In Private Property Rights Battle Against Neighborhood Activists

Tom’s Diner In Private Property Rights Battle Against Neighborhood Activists

Tom’s Diner in Denver, Colorado is facing a major property rights battle because of the whims of a few neighborhood activists. It all started when Tom Messina, the owner of Tom’s, decided that it was time to retire after operating his restaurant for over 20 years.

“”I’m a restaurateur who’s worked his life flipping pancakes and selling eggs,” says Messina. “I have a beautiful family I want to spend time with. I just turned 60 and I want to do something else.”

Messina’s plan had always been to finance his retirement by selling his restaurant. That dream looked like it would become a reality earlier this year when Alberta Company offered him $4.8 million for his property, which the Colorado-based developer plans to turn into an 8-story apartment building complete with shops on the ground floor.””

Unfortunately, after Tom and the developer applied for non historic status of the diner, five busy bodies in the neighborhood caught wind of the proposed sale, and went running to the folks at Historic Denver.

You see, the diner is a Googie design. A type modern architecture that is rare because not many buildings  are built like that (except that there are quite a few in Denver already) – so the activist and Historic Denver jumped all into Tom’s business and are now working hard to take away HIS RIGHT to sell his property as he sees fit.

Why? Because they think the building is cool, don’t want to see it go, and HISTORY AND FEELINGS!!!

Five members of the community, among them a bike shop/bar owner, Jessica Caouette, want landmark status because Colfax needs to stay funky! Furthermore, she came up with some creative ideas that involve developing the parking lot that surrounds Tom’s and leaving the diner in place. Keep in mind that the parking lot is where diner patrons park. As to being asked if this move is going to be harmful to Tom’s future? Watch:

Yeah lady, you absolutely ARE working to take Tom’s retirement away from him.

He has no other assets, so all of your creative ideas will leave him with far less than the $4.8 million he and the developer agreed upon. Furthermore, there’s not a legitimate developer out there that would develop a parking lot into apartments and shops while leaving the diner intact. It would cost far more than $4.8 million to be that creative, something that Jessica either fails to or is unwilling to understand.

Ann Elizabeth loves Tom’s Diner. She’s a regular. Yet when it comes to Tom funding his retirement through the sale, all bets are off.

“”So much affection for Mr. Messina — I’m a regular,” she told the packed room. “I wish Mr. Messina the award he deserves, but you know, legacy feeds the spirit.””

What a load of horse shit. If Tom’s Diner is granted historic status, where will the money come from to preserve it? You see, even as the Denver City Council committee voted unanimously to send it to the full council on August 26th, Tom told everyone that no matter the outcome, he will be closing the business.

This isn’t the first private property rights battle vs Historic Designation/Landmark status to take place in the last few years. The Strand in NYC and the battle over the Shoebox Music venue in Seattle are just two  of many.

The people demanding that Tom’s Diner be preserved in perpetuity, are operating with no basis in reality. If the diner is designated as a landmark, it will have to deal with an entire new set of regulations and maintenance costs. All of which would blow a major hole in the diner’s bottom line.

There are five busy bodies who are using the historic landmark designation as a bludgeon to keep things the way they want no matter the cost to Tom Messina.

It was a wow. Like really? A little bit of a shock. To think that five people that I don’t know have such a stake, not a stake, but have such an impact on the future of my life …To think that what I’ve planned an worked for all my life can be decided by people that haven’t worked it and put in the time and the sweat equity … I feel that I’ve earned it, and I feel that it is my right as a property owner to be able to move on, and do as I choose.” [Emphasis Added]

The Busy Body Five may get what they want, but in the long run what they will likely end up with is an empty eyesore on the corner of Colfax and Pearl.

Feature Photo Credit: Screenshot via CBS Denver on YouTube, cropped and modified 

Written by

  • Brian Brandt says:

    He could always spit in their scrambled eggs.

  • Scott says:

    One more example of the cost of the dim takeover of Colorado!

    5 years, 1 month, and 17 days till retirement!

  • Randy Wolf says:

    The busy body group’s fight is not with Tom. It is with the developer. If he wants to sell and they will give him the asking price sign the papers! Let the buyer and their lawyers worry about the rest.

    • Nina Bookout says:

      Quite frankly, you are wrong. You see, the fight that is happening will have no bearing on the developer’s bottom line. It is directly affecting Tom Messina’s bottom line now and in the future. Why? Because if the property is designated as a historical landmark, the developer will abandon ship. That’s the reality.

      • GWB says:

        I think his point is the ‘historical’ bit of it should have no effect on the sale. If the city wants to keep the developer from tearing it down, then they should have to buy it from the developer, who has already established a fair market value of $4.8 mil.

        The problem here is he’s using free market logic. And that’s not where this sits at the moment.

  • Hate_me says:

    I love historic buildings (though I personally believe this style is an eyesore and a stain on Americana). I generally support preservation efforts, but nostalgia doesn’t trump the interests of the already-invested businessman. I’m outright appalled at the ingratitude of the community toward the man who made their memories possible.

    I don’t see anywhere in the article where it gives the historic significance of the building, but I wasn’t reading too closely. It’s not, currently, a landmark, right? What I do see is a bunch of tugging on the heartstrings and an argument of “why should we let this guy enjoy the fruits of his labor when he should really just continue to contribute to the happiness of his patrons [slightly paraphrased].”

    If the busybodies win this one and screw him out of a $4.8M payday… well… I’m usually anti-arson, also, but in this case…

    *Entirely off topic, a grease-fire is overplayed and fire science has become pretty handy with forensics. Bums, on the other hand, will do just about anything for the right motivation; while police detectives often do a stellar job, their investigations remain far more subjective.

    • GWB says:

      Given the situation, I’d expect him to be arrested, no matter how innocent the fire actually was. Despite motivation not being an element of the crime, they would convict him on circumstantial evidence based on the clear motive.

      • Hate_me says:

        I realize it wouldn’t be the smartest decision, revenge never is… but it would be momentarily satisfying.

        • Slickwilly says:

          What is to stop Tom from closing his doors, cancelling his insurance, and hiring a bulldozer operator early one morning? His property, after all.

  • Wfjag says:

    The developer wants the land, not the business or building. Sounds like Tom needs to consider a Fire Sale.

  • GWB says:

    after Tom and the developer applied for non historic status of the diner
    They had to apply for NON-historical status? WTF?!?

    they think the building is cool, don’t want to see it go, and HISTORY AND FEELINGS!
    I don’t see what the problem is. They just match the other guy’s price and they can do what they want with it.

    something that Jessica either fails to or is unwilling to understand
    Probably “is incapable of”, since she seems unable to do critical thinking.

    What a load of horse shit.
    Yeah, that was my reaction, too.

    then they need to pay up the $4.8 million fair market value for it.
    DING DING DING! Winner, winner, chicken dinner! ^^THIS^^

    but in the long run what they will likely end up with
    Well, what *I* am hoping they end up with is being covered in tar and feathers and run out of town on a MFing rail. Or, we could just go with the Virginia seal……..

    Sorry, but this is very clearly a taking under the Constitution (5th Amendment), and he has to be compensated for that. The market value is $4.8 million. If the city wants to pay that, and maintain it, great. If they do NOT want to pay for it and run it, then the preservation society can buy it and maintain it. If THEY don’t want to do that, then they can all go suck eggs, Tom can sell it to whomever he wants, and he can move somewhere nice and non-tyrannical with his millions.

    (BTW, this case is more open-and-shut than most, because he already had a deal inked for a market value, when the tyrants intervened. There is no consideration required of “well, if you sell this later, no one will want it for this price because of the extra regulations and such.” There’s no possibility of “he made this deal because he knew we wanted it, and he did it to get an unfair value.” The market value was fairly established absent gov’t intervention, and that’s what the gov’t (or the tyrants) will have to pay to enact their scheme.)

    • Scott says:

      Everything you say is correct GWB, the thing is, this is Colorado, and we’ve been thoroughly Californicated, right up to having a a dim legislature and aside-saddle governor that will pass any stupid shit they put in front of him..
      Sad how far this once great state has fallen. Denver, Boulder and Pueblo have become 3rd world shit-holes, where it’s legal to do all sorts of drugs, and crap on the sidewalks, and it’s only going to get worse, with the continued influx of Californians and illegals.

  • Merle says:

    wouldn’t surprise me if they had a fire…….

  • Dan says:

    I don’t know Googie, but I swear it resembles any number of older McDonald’s restaurants in Maryland. I guess the Golden Arches will get historic status some day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Become a Victory Girl!

Are you interested in writing for Victory Girls? If you’d like to blog about politics and current events from a conservative POV, send us a writing sample here.
Ava Gardner