Alex B. Holland
The fifteenth name on the Colonnade of Civic Benefactors is Alex B. Holland. Holland was a Councilman from Denver’s District 5, which included the Park Hill, East Colfax, Hilltop and Montclair Neighborhoods. He served from 1949 to 1958.
Research on Holland is shallow, especially with COVID closing the libraries. In general, there is a thin pool of information on the Internet from about the 1920’s and continues until about the 1990’s. To fish for additional information you have to head to the library. Information is wrapped in newspapers and the pages of phone books. Holland falls in to those years.
Although there is little information about Holland during his years on City Council perhaps, the best way to describe it is, no news is good news. After his years on City Council, Holland steps into a position that made more influence on Denver than his years on City Council.
On March 10, 1958 the Denver City Council approved the creation of an urban authority. It was formed to: “ assist developers with subsidies and guidance in turning downtown Denver’s crumbling low-rise properties into the soaring towers of modern metropolis.” The emphasis is on the word “authority” because they were given “their own powers of condemnation and eminent domain”, a dangerous and unchecked power.
The implosion of the Cooper Building at 17th and Curtis on April 5, 1970 was the beginning of the end of low-rise downtown Denver. With in a few years 27 city blocks incorporating 113 acres was reduced to dirt, with a large portion made into surface parking lots awaiting a resurrection to skyscrapers. I wasn’t able to verify when Alex B. Holland took the reigns of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, but he was the chairman in 1972. A couple year prior he was quoted as claiming the planned Prudential Plaza, now named Independence Plaza, would generate 10 times the tax revenue it would in it’s present state.
In Mark Barnhouse’s book LOST DENVER, he quotes Holland as claiming it was “hard to believe” the Tabor block possessed historical significance. The Tabor Block and the Tabor Opera House were both victims of DURA. Not being able to get to the library and review the HISTORY OF DENVER URBAN RENEWAL AUTHORITY by Donna McEncroe and Dick Johnson it is hard to determine if Holland holds responsibility as being the axe-man of low-rise Denver. The book was published by the Denver Foundation and the Alex B. Holland Fund, of which there is little one-line information. I need to do further information on DURA and reason Holland’s name was put on the Colonnade of Civic Benefactors. We could only hope it wasn’t his DURA job that put him there.
Alex B. Holland passed away in 1987. His wife, Maretta passed in 2005. Donations were requested in his honor for the Denver Art Museum and Samaratian House.
Lost Denver, by Mark Barnhouse pg 61
DenverInfill, Ken Schroeppel 7/31/2009
Dana Crawford, 50 years Saving the Soul of a City, by Mike McPhee, 2015
A Short History of Denver, Stephen J. Leonard and Thomas J. Noel, 2016
Westword, Alan Prendergast, 4/29/2015 and 2/28/2013
Hole in the Heart of the City, The Story of Denver’s Urban Renewal, by Alfredo Luis Calvo, 4/50/2018
Denverite, Andrew Kenney, 5//17/2017 5:18pm
CPR News, David Hill, May 1, 2017. Interview with Ken Schroeppel
Gold, Iron, and Stone: The Urban and Architectual History of Denver, Colorado, by Caitlin A. Milligan, fall 12-2015
Skyline and Auraria.wordpress.com, Feb 28, 2017