Top

news

Stories

 

Though it took some time, others followed. Ironton, an artist community housed in a former garage, opened in 2000 across the train tracks. Weilworks, the home and gallery of artist Tracy Weil, came next. Back near Silver Square, Glick won another zoning change from the city that allowed his development team to build the Fire Clay Lofts, a hip, two-block-long condo project just south on Blake Street. In 2005, several galleries banded together to form their own art district — called RiNo, "Where Art Is Made" — and began hosting First Friday events.

Today RiNo is an eclectic place where loading docks still outnumber cupcake shops, but residential momentum is building. There are few sidewalks, even fewer streetlights, and more than a couple of panhandlers. But there are also new businesses; the neighborhood recently welcomed a vegan market, a couple of hip restaurants, a nanobrewery and a winery.

"It has a much more grainy texture than anything in the city," says developer Mickey Zeppelin, who's responsible for turning an old Yellow Cab headquarters near the river into a mixed-use development called TAXI that's home to photo studios, cafes and tech companies — not to mention the urban pioneers who like the feel of the place. "Hopefully, as it develops, it doesn't become overly gentrified but maintains that character."

Kasel, who was here before most of them, traces his troubles to those changes. Although he didn't return phone calls for this story and a receptionist told us he wasn't available when we stopped by the factory, a company representative sent this statement: "Mr. Kasel has endured years of inspections by government entities from all levels far beyond the normal protocol. Kasel Associates Industries is a small business that employs over 100 people from the Denver area. They are American manufacturers of high-quality pet treats using USDA-approved meats. Mr. Kasel has finally decided to take legal steps to protect his company by filing this suit in federal court."

In the lawsuit, Kasel claims that the development of new residences "exacerbated the harassment" and subjected his factory to "an unremitting barrage" of "unwarranted inspections" by city and state agencies. In 1994, he was charged with a noise violation after Silver Square residents complained that he was operating loud cooling equipment after 10 p.m. A few months later, he was cited for operating an illegal junkyard. A judge acquitted him of both charges and, Kasel claims, even scolded the city for attempting to impose residential standards on an industrial area. Though the plots around the factory were changing, the land it sat on was still zoned for heavy industrial.

But by May 2005, the city had received dozens of complaints about a nauseating, "extremely putrid" stench coming from the factory. Readings taken with a handheld odor measurer — called a scentometer — found that the air around Kasel's factory was too smelly, and he was cited for violating the state's law on air-quality control. But the law included exceptions for manufacturers. Though Kasel admitted to doing nothing to mitigate the odor, the state dropped the charges after more than a year of legal wrangling.

But the complaints kept pouring in. "Strong odor coming from Kasel Industries," one caller reported in 2007. "Pig ears roasting odor is especially bad today," said another in 2008.

One e-mailer was particularly graphic: "Over the past two weeks, the smell of a rotten grease trap filled with decomposing bodies has filled the air," a man wrote to the city in 2010. "I have gotten home from school and gotten out of my car and literally dry heaved into my mouth. I am not one to be a whistleblower and...they were in the 'hood well before me, but there is something messed up going on over there."

City inspectors diligently responded, but they never detected odors above the legal limit.

***********

In January 2011, Matthew Palmer of the Dry Ice Factory artist studios and Ice Cube Gallery, which are located across Walnut Street from Kasel, e-mailed Emily vonSwearingen, a Silver Square resident active in a newly formed neighborhood organization called RiNo Neighbors, about the odor. In her reply, vonSwearingen copied councilwoman Montero's assistant.

"I am copying...Councilwoman Montero's office because what we have been doing thus far per city instructions is not working," vonSwearingen wrote. She said she'd struck up a verbal agreement with city investigator Ben Siller, who agreed to monitor the smell. But vonSwearingen wasn't happy with the results. Siller's scentometer, she wrote, "is a piece of crap. It is a plastic apparatus with a filter that he puts up to his nose and breathes through to determine if he 'senses' the smell. Ridiculous. I would be standing next to him gagging, and he would be sniffing through this thing and then tell me that it wasn't enough to warrant a ticket.

"I simply no longer know who to contact or trust," she added. "That is why we are wanting our city councilwoman to get involved."

VonSwearingen declined to speak to Westword for this story, citing the ongoing lawsuit. And she's not the only one. Montero, her former assistant Syner, city Department of Environmental Health and city zoning officials, and the other neighbors that Kasel is suing, Michael Ensminger and Sharon Brown, also declined interviews.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
17 comments
tkmsn
tkmsn

I am really angered by this article! A bunch of yuppy hipsters move into a "hip" new development and suddenly think they run the place! 

My one objection that I'm not too incensed over to put into words is these reports of the smell of human decomp. Really? I remain unconvinced these new residents have ever in their lives smelled a rotting body. Nevertheless, look around you! Do you not see the nearby neighborhoods? If you REALLY think that smell is a corpse, IT PROBABLY IS! I used to frequent an artist gathering at 35th and Walnut, only to stand at 36th and Downing later in the evening, awaiting the bus. At just the one bus stop, I have been both propositioned and threatened, and have seen drug deals going down. Imagine what could be happening at bus stops and back alleys across the neighborhood! Want to be an artist? Before you can portray life the way you can imagine it, you need to see it for what it is. You can give your little corner of town all the cutesy names you want, it doesn't change that it is a hard part of town, meant for industry, not young suburbanites.

I absolutely agree with Rick Corage: "People who have the money to live somewhere nice should live somewhere nice." (emphasis mine). Buying a loft gives you control of the loft, not control of the neighbors who were in their proper place before you edged in.

purplepomeranian
purplepomeranian

Gee you move into an area zoned nearby as heavy industrial what do you expect it to smell like roses.  This is the same reason why the industrial area of commerce city stinks its an industrial area.  Deal with it or move on out & go find a bed of roses to move into.

patricia.calhoun
patricia.calhoun moderator editor

I'd love to publish some of these comments in our print edition -- ideally with the author's full name. If that's okay, e-mail me at patricia.calhoun@westword.com. And if you'd rather submit a different letter, that's fine, too!

globevilleneighbor
globevilleneighbor

I live nearby, in Globeville.  Our neighborhood is full of houses and is definitely zoned residential.  The smell is pretty awful there too.  I've always wondered where it came from.  

Petra7
Petra7

This is the reason that originally the zoning did not allow residential. The factory employs people in the area and zoning in other areas should avoid and restrict development like this to prevent further impacts like this one. Maybe they should move on and out. In addition, communities have been against developments for this very reason. They move into a community to push out what is already there,

suethebastards
suethebastards

As the Silver-Square dwellers set up their Christmas gear
Ray Kassel’s across the street, cooking a batch of fresh ear

Christmas is near and gifts require imagination
This year’s been rough, cause the lofts smell like bacon

Denver has an appetite and hungry for some tax
The developments approved, oh-yes…fresh green-backs

Historic factories built into lofts like new
With rail-yards nearby, what an impressive view

With the upcoming lawsuit and all that worry
The evidence smells good but not to the jury

And what about that clever gift fit for a friend?
Perhaps a wind sock located way downwind

A little something special for those RiNo tweeters
The hottest new gadget this year, “scentometers”

With the notion of Santa, and all his reindeer
Undergo a whiff, of flame broiled ear?

sandoze
sandoze

The Purina Plant is a welcome smell compared to the pig ear plant. My first experience with the stench I had considered calling 911 and reporting a dead body in one of the empty ruins of the 'hood. Needless to say it's affected where I patron. I can no longer go to the Walnut Room on days when the stench is in full bloom, it literally comes in through the air filters. I have a feeling the Populist will be the next victim.

As for the comments saying it's the fault of the people who moved there should realize that these areas of Denver are no longer 'out of town' just as LoDo is no longer a downtown ghetto, Brighton Ave is no longer home to a landfill and Stapleton is no longer far enough away to justify an airport that close to the city. Residential and commercial space in that area has been approved and some of it has been there before the pig ears began to roast. There's something to be said about being a good neighbor. Kasel should consider spending less money on lawsuits and more money on retrofitting his filtration system.

milleralexjames
milleralexjames

Instead of reading the entire 6-page article, let me sum it up for
everyone: douchebags moved into an industrial neighborhood, complained
about it's side effects from being an industrial neighborhood, and
doucebag industry owner is vindictive.

jennikoa
jennikoa

This is so reminiscent of when all those people moved out to the new housing developments by the airport and then bitched about the noise.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

I am thrilled to discover that scentometers exist. If they were available to the general public, I would purchase one.

robertpcollins
robertpcollins

I've never smelled a stench in that neighborhood!

admin174
admin174

I was on site for two and a half hours during business and didn't smell one thing. 

RiNoRes
RiNoRes

@tkmsnYou are grossly misinformed.  Silver Square residents bought for cheap years ago and before Kasel Factory was making "dog treats" that have been found to be contaminated with salmonella (google that). They were manufacturing non-odor producing industry when residents moved in then switched manufacturing later on. Doubtful you would enjoy a factory spewing out vile odors of dead animal parts after you had already been living in your residence.

tkmsn
tkmsn

@patricia.calhoun just posted a comment - still feeling pretty turbulent about the whole mess! so it may not be much good, but if you want to use it in print, go ahead. I'd rather not use my full name, but you can print it as T. Mason.

maryloudesign
maryloudesign

@globevilleneighbor 

The odors in Globeville used smell much worse, sickening really, with meat packing, tanneries and (gag) rendering plants. The meat packing industry began in 1882 and was viewed as an asset, attracting people to the area for the jobs and affordable housing. By the 1980s, most of those industries had disappeared with consolidation in meat packing and standards of what was acceptable from industry had changed as well. Although there is a city ordinance that deals with odors (in 1970 it was Denver City Ordinance No 760.12) there doesn't seem to be an effective way to measure odors. Decisions about enforcement depend on the kind of businesses already in the area.


Tally
Tally

@jenna-furrr Can't WW get one for you?  I am sure the cost could be justified as a business expense.  Just think of all the places you could use it.

tkmsn
tkmsn

@RiNoRes @tkmsn So... I googled salmonella. I'm not really sure what you were hoping to prove to me by having me do so. As my original post is concerned mainly with my doubt that the residents of the RiNo neighborhood know what a corpse smells like, I had supposed you hoped there was an article in existence to link the smell of salmonella poisoning to the smell of human decomp. If there is such an article in existence, I didn't find it. Go ahead. Call me misinformed.

I admit... I'm not all up-to-date on industry law. It may well be that manufacturing industries are legally prohibited from making any changes in manufacturing procedures when the consequence will be devastating to the highly-attuned senses of nearby entitled-to-the-world-on-a-silver-platter residents. It seems unlikely, but I do hear rumor of unlikely laws all the time.

Doubtful you know me at all, RiNoRes. Doubtful you know that I am all-too-familiar with general industry and the unpleasantness surrounding it. Perhaps you are right, though. Perhaps I wouldn't enjoy a factory spewing out vile odors of dead animal parts. Or, perhaps I would understand that buying "for cheap" always comes with hidden caveats, and that buying near an industrial zone is not bound to produce pleasant results. This all seems rather circumspect, but here's what I know:    Had I bought "for cheap" anywhere in town and been disappointed in the consequences, I would take responsibility for my poor-decision making and leave; I would not TAKE IT PERSONALLY and BULLY THE LOCAL BUSINESSES.

 
Loading...