DENVER-After listening to hours of citizen testimony, most of whom opposed the plan for a jail in their neighborhood, the city council by a 10-2 vote approved a plan to pay $16 million for the Rocky Mountain News building in the Golden Triangle neighborhood. The News’ building at 100 Gene Amole Way is owned by the Denver Newspaper Agency, which runs the business operations of the News and the Denver Post.

The DNA wants to consolidate all of the operations of the two papers into one building.

The News building was appraised at $16.5 million, asset manager Derek Brown tells the council. He says the DNA has back-up buyers and would sell it to someone else if the city didn’t act on it. The building currently generates a little more than $200,000 in property taxes that will be lost when the city closes on the deal.

The new jail is expected to cost more than $200 million. Construction must be approved by voters.

About 50 people voiced their distress of building a Justice Center with 1,500 beds for inmates and 24 courtrooms on the site. Protesters, many wearing buttons with a line through the word “jail” gave the council a petition with 102 signatures on it opposing the jail.

But councilman Charlie Brown pointed out that many of the signatures came from people who live outside of the Golden Triangle. Brown noted that “there is no perfect place for a new jail, but this is about as close as we can get.”

Residents and business owners say they worry the neighborhood, which already has a small jail and court rooms, would attract the wrong kind of people to the neighborhood.

However, city officials noted that the justice center also draws thousands of lawyers and jurors annually, as well as judges, who eat in nearby restaurants and buy art in Golden Triangle galleries.

Brown also noted that the new jail could be an architectural gem. He pointed to a drawing of a jail in St. Louis that looked like a class-A office building.

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