Off Limits

LoDo lowdown: On Tuesday, Lower Downtown District Inc. released its much-blabbed-about neighborhood plan charting LoDo's aesthetic future. The draft document, yet to be approved by the city council, calls for a 100-foot height limit on new buildings in most of LoDo and a 100-foot puke limit for restaurateurs and bar owners, who would be responsible for mopping up any groceries blown by inebriated patrons within that distance of their front doors. On the preceding Tuesday, a group of hardcore fans of lower downtown (as the area used to be called)--a sadder and wiser bunch compared with the heaving hordes who now jam the streets on weekend nights--gathered a few blocks up Larimer Street at Herb's Hideout for a reception benefiting the Ballpark Neighborhood. That area, like LoDo, could one day became an official historic district. In the meantime, though, the place simply teems with history.

Developer Dana Crawford reminisced about coming up with the notion of Larimer Square thirty years ago, a project that saved a block of skid-row buildings six blocks down from Herb's. Her pioneering restoration project was eight years old before she was able to secure any bank financing; one local banker, she recalled, told her he'd be more willing to loan money if instead of saving historic structures she returned the area to its historic business: whorehouses. The evening also included a benefit auction. Among the offerings was historian Tom Noel's book Larimer Street--which was snapped up by a local fellow who pointed out that, after all, he was in the used-book business. Specifically, he owns the adult bookstore and pleasure palace just around the corner on 20th Street. Against the odds, the neighborhood has retained some character--and some characters.

Just three blocks away from all this fun is the block soon to be graced with Arnold Schwarzenegger's Stadium Walk project, which comes complete with a Planet Hollywood slated to open in late '97. That's the overblown entertainment palace partly owned by overblown celebs including Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Ah-nold himself. The chain, which opened its first restaurant in New York City in 1991, just went public last month, after having magically turned a $25 million loss into a $21 million gain. Only in Hollywood. Wall Street was so bedazzled by the stars who showed up for the initial stock sale that it didn't notice the $46 million rewrite. A recent story in the New York Observer, however, did an interesting job of dissecting the deal and even found this odd footnote in Planet Hollywood's IPO registration statement: Any "celebrity stockholders," it reads, can demand their money back "at fair market value" if any "high-profile" officer is convicted "of a felony, or for use of illegal drugs or other crime of moral turpitude."

At last! Something in keeping with the area's history.
One final LoDo note: A recent filing with the Colorado Secretary of State's office trademarked the title "The Men of LoDo." What's next? Res-taurateurs like John Hickenlooper (of The Wynkoop Brewing Company) coyly displaying their private labels?

Hats off to Larry: Megadeveloper Larry Mizel, focus of a reminiscence in this space last week in honor of his being named DU's "dean" of real estate, hastens to point out that, contrary to our reports, he never has had to sign a cease-and-desist order to stay out of the banking business. Our apologies for the error.

 
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