Gates Factory

The Gates building was once home to the Colorado Tire and Leather Company. In 1911, Charles Gates, Sr. purchased the company. It would later become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of power transmission belts. In 1917, the company phased out leather for rubber and renamed the company the International Rubber Company.  The company continued to expand and became a well know leader in the rubber industry.


The new owners of 50 acres, Cherokee Investment Partners want to build a neighborhood to benefit many people; they call it a mixed-use development area. The area is perfect; it has parks nearby, multiple transportation modes with in close vicinity, and affluent neighborhoods surrounding it. Unfortunately, the clean up due to the contamination from the rubber factory is stalling the plans.


The area where the rubber company was at is located near the west Washington Park area, particularly around Mississippi and Logan. This area is zoned as a commercial/residential/industrial area. Now however, the old rubber company building is also a superfund site, and is a large TCE plume area located around Mississippi and Logan. TCE is a solvent that is commonly used to remove grease from metal parts; it can seep in to the groundwater and can also be in a vapor form. TCE was found in the groundwater near and around the old building. The company, Cherokee Investment Partners, which now owns 50 acres of the old Gates property, has drilled their own wells to establish the extent of the contamination.  The EPA and Cherokee have been drilling wells and testing the air quality in people’s homes.





Affects of TCE

TCE or Trichloroethylene is a nonflammable, colorless liquid. It evaporates easily from surface water, but less easily from soil. TCE sticks to particles causing it to stay potentially for a long time. People can come in contact with TCE by breathing in air around a contaminated house, drinking, swimming and showering in water contaminated with it.

TCE can affect your health, causing headaches, dizziness, lung irritation, poor coordination; it sounds like lots of other things that cause these symptoms. However, it can also cause kidney and liver damage and impaired heart functions. There is a potential for it to increase the likelihood of cancer, and is considered to be a likely carcinogen to humans.

TCE sounds like great stuff to have leaching into your water and home. The Cherokee company that now owns 50 acres of the old Gates property wants to turn the area into a thriving neighborhood, but I am a little skeptical on their abilities (with the help of the EPA), to clean the site up, and eliminate traces of the TCE.

Apartment Building Across from Gates

Of course there are supposed expectable levels of the toxin. But is that really going to be a good selling point to potential buyers? They appear to be beautiful apartments, but I don’t think they would be worth the actual price.

Regardless, of what they manage to make the old Gates rubber company buildings into, I would suspect it will look better than the current buildings do. 


“Trichloroethylene (TCE).” Agency for Toxic Substanes and Disease Registry. CDC, July 2003. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <;.

“Urban Design Standards and Guidelines.” Cherokee Redevelopment of the Former Gates Rubber Factory. 2 Dec. 2005. Web. 1 May 2012. <;.

Dickinson, Christina, and Matt Flener. “Teens Cited for Trespassing at Gates Factory after Girl Falls through Roof.” 14 Feb. 2011. Web. 1 May 2012. <;.

“Mississippi & Logan TCE Plume.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 1 May 2012. <;.

“Powering Progress in Belts, Hoses & Hydraulics | Gates Corporation.” Powering Progress in Belts, Hoses & Hydraulics. Gates. Web. 29 Apr. 2012. <;.




Urban Explorers Love the Gates Building

The Gates building has a certain appeal to some people. Similar to those that seek out adventure rock climbing or searching for ghosts, urban explorers are drawn to the abandoned building. The building however, is closed to the public and has signs all around saying ‘No Trespassing’.  This doesn’t stop very many, neither does the likely possibility of getting arrested by the police officers that make regular rounds of the building.

There have been people that just will not heed the signs and find ways into the building. Unfortunately, for some people, this decision has either been fatal, or extremely close to it. In February 2011, there was a girl that fell through the roof and fell 45 feet to the floor; the fire department had to break in to get to her. She as well as the people she was with all were cited for trespassing. In 2007, there was a boy that went to go exploring and fell through an open elevator shaft.  Regrettably, he was not as fortunate as the girl and died a month later due to his injuries. In 2008, there was a lawsuit filed against developers and contractors charging them as liable for the boy’s death; even though he was trespassing and it clearly states that in multiple locations around the buildings. So why would the property owners be responsible for his death? Why would you have to make a building safe for trespassers? I think it’s more of an “enter at your own risk”.


Maher, Jared J. “Lawsuit over Urban Explorer Death at Abandoned Gates Rubber Factory Going to Trial.” – Denver News. 11 Dec. 2008. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <;.

Dickinson, Christina, and Matt Flener. “Teens Cited for Trespassing at Gates Factory after Girl Falls through Roof.” 14 Feb. 2011. Web. 1 May 2012. <;.