Denver opens Wellington Webb building as overnight shelter

Denver is repurposing one of its main municipal buildings into an overnight shelter as the city scrambles to find warm places for people to stay during a historic, subzero cold snap.

The Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building, 201 W. Colfax Ave, opened at 3 p.m. Thursday as a 24-hour warming center for up to 100 people, the city said in a news release. Chairs and blankets will be available, but not cots.

The building will be closed for city operations through the weekend.

The city previously opened the Denver Coliseum, 4600 Humboldt St., and the Downtown Denver YMCA, 25 E 16th Ave. as 24-hour warming shelters.

Weapons — including knives and firearms — are prohibited in the warming centers, as are alcohol, drugs, scooters, bicycles and skateboards.

The Coliseum shelter, designed to support 225 people, had more than 350 on Wednesday night, said Jill Lis, a Denver city spokesperson. Some of the individuals moved to the YMCA on Thursday, which can fit 100 people.

Anyone who needs transportation to the warming centers can catch a shuttle from St. Francis Center and the Lawrence Street Community Center between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Denver recreation centers and libraries will be open during regular hours for people who need somewhere to warm up. Those locations be found here.

Temperatures plummeted rapidly Wednesday afternoon from the 50s to the single digits. Wind chills were reported as low as -54 in some parts of Colorado on Thursday, with experts warning that even a few minutes outside with exposed skin could lead to frostbite.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a low of -16 on Thursday night.

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