It's a tricky bit of local mythology that the Denver Library Commission will have to negotiate when it meets next month to discuss (and perhaps settle on) a name for the branch. Whatever is decided, it's a safe bet that future generations of schoolkids will care a lot more about what's inside their neighborhood palace of wisdom than whose name is on the marquee. — Alan Prendergast

Sprouts Farmers Market

East Colfax Avenue and Monroe Street

Smiley’s Laundromat has reached the end of the cycle.
Christopher Morgan
Smiley’s Laundromat has reached the end of the cycle.
The Lowenstein is a hot spot across the street from East High School.
Christopher Morgan
The Lowenstein is a hot spot across the street from East High School.

When Sprouts Farmers Market announced in late 2011 that it would build a $3 million store on Colfax between Monroe and Garfield streets, on the site of a former car dealership, most of the people who lived in the surrounding neighborhoods were ecstatic. There isn't another grocery store for at least two miles in any direction, and Sprouts (then called Sunflower Farmers Market) wasn't an average grocery store: The chain specializes in healthier produce and meats along with organic foods and specialty items.

Rosen Properties, which owns the property, is a family-run firm with the majority of its business focused nearby, in Park Hill, South City Park and Congress Park, and it seemed like the company was doing what was best for its neighbors — at least until those neighbors found out about a part of the plan that doesn't appear on Rosen's online depictions of the project: a Chick-fil-A restaurant with a drive-thru.

Rosen Properties and its president, Sean Mandel, didn't publicize the news, and now some neighbors feel they've been tricked — that there isn't enough parking for a fast-food joint, that a drive-thru will tie up traffic. "Of course, it has been a bit of a sordid plan on their end, from my perspective," says Alex Wiley, who lives across the street from the site. "Sean had early on sent out a letter saying he didn't mean to deceive the neighborhood during zoning, where a drive-thru was not part of the original plans shown.

"He then said that grocery stores don't pay very much rent, so the development was not economically viable without it," Wiley continues. "He asked for a meeting, to which I said, as long as Chick-fil-A was on the table there was nothing to talk about."

But for anyone who follows the news, there is plenty to talk about when it comes to Chick-fil-A.

The Georgia-based chain has a cult following across the country and typically draws big crowds whenever it opens a new store — but Chick-fil-A's culture is also strongly aligned with conservative Christian principles. Company stores are closed on Sundays and the corporation frequently donates to Christian organizations, including some that actively oppose same-sex marriage. Those policies became dinner-table conversation last summer when a top Chick-fil-A executive publicly bashed gay-rights groups.

"Personally, and I'm sure others in the neighborhood feel similarly, it goes beyond a simple political issue of gay marriage," says Wiley.

Indeed, the Sprouts (opening in July) and the Chick-fil-A (opening in October) make for an odd couple in one of the most urban parts of a left-leaning city, but Mandel insists that he's only received two complaints about Chick-fil-A — one of them from Wiley — and denies that he said that the project wouldn't be financially viable without the fast-food restaurant. "Chick-fil-A is one of five tenants so far, and they don't represent the entire project," he adds. "People have the right to patronize businesses at their own discretion, and there will be people who won't go there."

Count Wiley as part of that group.

— Jenn Wohletz

Fletcher Plaza

9898 East Colfax Avenue

As one of the founders of the River North Arts District and one of the industrial neighborhood's first new residents in many years, artist Tracy Weil has often been called an urban pioneer. But he's recently taken on a new challenge that is both similar and very different — that of a suburban pioneer. In April, Weil was hired as managing director of the Aurora Cultural Arts District, which is split by the once-cute shopping district between Clinton and Fulton streets and has been struggling with growing pains.

Weil has also lent his expertise in what works and what doesn't to Lakewood's newish 40 West Arts District, which is miles from Aurora when it comes to geography, but very similar in other ways. Unlike RiNo and the Art District on Santa Fe, which are both strong destinations, the arts districts in Aurora and Lakewood are for the people who live nearby, and therefore need to reflect that constituency.

40 West started off by choosing a snappy name with historic underpinnings to Colfax's designation as a highway. Anchored by the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and the district's own 40 West Gallery, the district is hosting street parties and fairs and people-friendly exhibitions like the recent Traveling Route 40 paean to Colfax, which spread streetwise goodwill to many locations up and down the 26-mile artery's strip.

This June, 40 West is hosting a series based on the green tenets of recycling and repurposing that will include a recycled-art exhibition, a recycled-art market and a trash fashion show. 40 West is also banking on the new Lamar Street Light Rail Station to bring new visitors to the area; to that end, Lakewood-based artist Lonnie Hanzon is in the midst of creating a welcoming public-art piece for the whistle-stop.

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10 comments
From_Denver
From_Denver

Man, I guess I never thought I would see the day people would be so  up in arms about a fried chicken joint being built on Colfax.

Colfax, you've changed. 

ljhliesl
ljhliesl

Sean Mandel deliberately lies when he "insists" he has received "only two complaints" about Chick-Fil-A. I attended a neighborhood meeting in February with about two dozen neighbors, all of whom opposed the restaurant and pointed out the disadvantages and harm it would inflict on the neighborhood. That was just one meeting that people bothered to attend. He might have "received" two complaints by formal business letter, but he has heard and seen and been exposed to many, many more complaints about the restaurant (and about his duplicity). 

Mandel_Ruins_Colfax
Mandel_Ruins_Colfax

Sean Mandel is lying again.  The entire South City Park Association has complained about Chick-a-Fil.  The drive thru does not meet the city's Colfax Plan and was snuck in on lies by him.  The writers need to contact the association and see all he has done to avoid working with us.  He has stated to us that Sprouts is non-viable on it's own as a tenant and they MUST have a drive thru...  We do not trust, nor like him!

Sean, you are not welcome in SCP! Keep coming here on dates and I will harrass you in front of them!

berniedan
berniedan

I was surprised that the article failed to mention Duman's Custom Tailors. It has been right around the corner from the Capitol forever, and if anything demonstrated the eclectic nature of East Colfax Avenue, it was that shop.

Johnny Genova
Johnny Genova

I was gonna say, isn't it the longest street in the country? Cause if its not I've been lying to my out of town peps.

Conor Tewell
Conor Tewell

Fuck that, the longest avenue in the country! Represent

Ariel Amirinoor
Ariel Amirinoor

Savanna Sailas Tashina Morsulus Garett W. McKee COLFAX!!!

jtcolfax
jtcolfax

interesting.  one other thing that should be mentioned is the latter day phenomenon of calling the street, "the Fax".  that is appalling and must cease.

 
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