Construction Watch

Yates Theater could be resurrected as a music venue

Frank Schultz of Tavern Hospitality Group has a lot on his plate. He and his wife just had a baby boy last week, around the same time THG finally broke ground on the Tavern Platt Park, which is going into the old home of India's Pearl at 1475 South Pearl Street and has targeting an opening date in October. And in the meantime, Schultz's name has showed up on another application: for the Tavern Berkeley at 4979 West 44th Avenue. But for this project, everyone's singing a different tune. See also: Tavern Platt Park will finally start construction this month

The West 44th Avenue location, which Debbie Lease of the twenty-year-old booking agency Talent West and her partner, Erik Satie, acquired a year and a half ago, includes a big parking lot, some retail storefronts and the old home of Piano Specialists. They bought the property -- which came with sixty pianos that Lease had to sell -- from a family that had owned it since the '50s.

But the building's history stretches back much further than that, to 1926, when it was the Yates Theater. And the art deco auditorium still exists inside the former piano store. Initially, Lease and Satie planned to turn it into an extension of Talent West, where they could do some talent development and also create a sound stage that would be "just dynamite for Denver," Lease says.

"But as workers came through, we realized with the modest means we had, we would not be able to pull it off correctly," she explains. So they started looking for potential partners -- partners who would not want to scrape off the block and put a big development there. "We said we wanted to hold onto our dream," she says.

And then they started talking with Schultz, who'd first worked with Talent West when he booked the original Soiled Dove. Seeing the beautiful but dilapidated theater, he signed on to help make that dream a reality. "We don't want it developed as an apartment site," Schultz says. "It's a huge project. It won't be so much a Tavern, but this great neighborhood venue." The storefronts will be leased and the theater, which has a liquor license hearing on February 7, will be renovated into a venue larger than the Soiled Dove in Lowry. That will allow for a wider range of acts to be booked; the space may host films and other neighborhood events, too.

"The neighbors are really excited about it," Lease says, adding that the neighbors may even be asked to help name the resurrected spot. "They've seen this building doing nothing for ever and ever. We're very excited, too. We're over the moon about this."