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The interior of the Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse soon will be protected if Boulder City Council on Tuesday approves an updated ordinance designating the well-known 13th Street building as a landmark.

The Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse is the byproduct of Boulder’s relationship with its sister city Dushanbe, the capital city of Tajikistan. (File photo)

Advocates with the Friends of the Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse and Historic Boulder pushed for the interior and exterior to be protected by the ordinance, although it’s something that has yet to be done. Boulder defines a landmark designation as a means of honoring, preserving and protecting buildings and areas with special character and historic, architectural or aesthetic interest or value to the city.

If approved, the ordinance dictates that regulation will be limited to the inside pavilion and won’t include the “utilitarian addition” of the bathrooms, hallway, office and kitchen. This means that any changes proposed to the inside pavilion part of the building, as well as any proposed to the exterior, would need to go through a review process.

“(The ordinance) lists the interior features that are particularly significant, like the hand carved columns and the fountain and the plastered panels but everything on the interior part of the pavilion is still subject to review,” historic preservation planner Marcy Cameron said.

City Council first heard about this matter in an Oct. 24 public hearing. Most council members felt favorable about protecting the interior of the iconic teahouse but agreed to delay a formal decision until city staff could work with the Friends of the Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse and restaurant management to craft the right language.

In the end, Cameron said this was an important step. The stakeholders met in two virtual meetings and ultimately agreed on the language.

“We really wanted to find that balance of protecting the interior but still making sure the restaurant could operate fully,” Cameron said.

Other key revisions include an outline of the review process for the interior, which is similar to the process for landmark alteration certificate review of the exterior, and a refined definition of the word “alteration” to clarify what work requires review.

Cameron said the updated ordinance feels like a win for all parties.

The Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse is the byproduct of Boulder’s relationship with its sister city Dushanbe, the capital city of Tajikistan. The teahouse is built of colorful, intricately patterned handcrafted pieces, most of which were made in Tajikistan. It was constructed over two years, before being disassembled and shipped to Boulder in 200 wooden crates. After much debate about where to put the teahouse and how to fund it, the building broke ground in July 1997 and was finished in 1998.

“We urge the Council to accept the legal language that was agreed upon by the stakeholders to protect and designate the Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse … as an individual Boulder landmark, including both the interior and exterior of this truly one-of-a-kind building,” the Friends group wrote in a public email to City Council.

“The Teahouse’s beautiful and complex interior is, in fact, indivisible from the exterior. You can’t have one without the other,” the letter continued.

If you watch

What: Boulder City Council meeting

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: The meeting will be held virtually. Watch online at bouldercolorado.gov/boulder8 or the city’s YouTube page.

Agenda: bit.ly/32NdWVc

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