Future of Aztlan Theatre uncertain as owner claims Colorado’s high property taxes forcing him to sell – CBS Colardo

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The future of the Aztlan Theatre in the Santa Fe Arts District stands uncertain after the owner claims property taxes are forcing him to sell. Tim “Timeo” Correa, a longtime activist and a business owner, took over the theatre in 1972 and used it as a community space for decades. 

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Aztlan Theatre

CBS


In the 70s, it was a place where Chicanos would gather and catch Spanish-American films, then in the late 80s the theatre became a space for live shows and concerts.

In the last year business at the theatre has slowed down. Correa and his wife Aurora are still open every First Friday and every other weekend, keeping the theatre’s spirit alive. However, that’s a huge change in comparison to previous years. The Aztlan was once a space that was open six days a week, according to Correa.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the theatre suffered in a major way, losing out on at least $60,000, according to Correa. He says business has not been the same since. Now property taxes are causing huge concern for the couple.

In the past year, the estimated value of Correa’s property went from $882,000 to $1,654,800, according to the city’s Denver Property Taxation and Assessment System. As the property value increases, so do the property taxes. Correa’s bill this year came in at $37,000 which is a $15,000 increase from the previous year.

“It’s draining my retirement, it is draining my whole retirement savings,” said Correa.

The couple says property taxes are now costing them more than half of their current income.

“Thirty-seven thousand dollars property tax for a year… that’s outlandish, it’s inhumane,” said Correa.

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Aztlan Theatre

CBS


Customers of the establishment signed a petition asking the city to support Correa in decreasing their property taxes, many expressing how special this theatre is to the community.

“This a community service theater and they don’t want to see it gone,” said Correa.

Correa also used the space to serve troubled youth. He once hosted an event where he invited Mexican-American actor Edward James Olmos to speak with youth from local high schools about gang violence.

“I have done a lot for the community and in the past have done a lot for city problems or issues, now I need help!”

Despite a storied past, the future of the building is in jeopardy. Correa blames skyrocketing property taxes for the most part.

“It’s a slap in the face, of course, because I have to pay the other half and I am a small business,” said Correa.

Correa paid the first half of the bill earlier this year but is due to pay another $17,562 in June for a total of $37,448 in property taxes.

“We recognize the importance of that particular property historically in that community so we are aware of that,” said Denver County Assessor, Keith Erffmeyer, “But, the state statutes and other things direct us to do what we are doing and that’s to value the property of what we think it would sell for.”

Over the years, Correa says the business has encountered many changes including weather damage and recent break-ins. This has led to a plethora of repairs now needed.

However, the city assessor’s office says the theatre’s property taxes are based on the land value. The reason for the high property taxes has a lot to do with the area the building sits on.

“It just so happens that particular property in Santa Fe is in an area that is undergoing a lot of transformation and transition and growth, which is good for property values, but does result in higher taxes,” said Erffmeyer.

The city assessor’s office has confirmed that the Aztlan filed two protests on their assessed value that were denied as part of the appeals process. According to the city, the total number of Denver assessment appeals was 24,769. Denver adjusted 11,044 of them which is 45%.

“The value on this property was supported by information gathered from the surrounding market, the value was for the land whereas other property values include the condition of structures,” said Erffmeyer.

Still with a fixed income and high taxes, the couple remains weighing their options.

“We could have used a lot of that money to put into the theatre and help fix it up,” said Correa, “This is a community service theatre and they (customers) don’t want to see  it gone or demolished.”

Correa is thinking about a historic designation to try to keep the theatre’s history alive and lower property taxes. He is also looking to sell the Aztlan Theatre for an estimated $4 million.

Correa hopes to sell the theatre to someone with a similar passion for activism, making a difference and keeping the culture in the community alive.

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