Business

Hearing Officer Endorses Cap Hill Hotel's Marijuana Lounge

The Patterson Inn, currently a hot spot for ghost tours, could add a marijuana lounge.
The Patterson Inn, currently a hot spot for ghost tours, could add a marijuana lounge. Thomas Mitchell
A hearing officer hired by the City of Denver has recommended that the Patterson Inn be approved for a marijuana hospitality license.

The boutique hotel, located at 420 East 11th Avenue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, was the first applicant under Denver's new pot hospitality program, filing its paperwork in November. If it's approved, owner Chris Chiari plans to open an indoor marijuana-friendly parlor for hotel guests and their visitors who are 21 and over. Marijuana smoking wouldn't be allowed in the Patterson's nine suites, however, and no marijuana would be for sale at the boutique hotel; guests would have to bring in their own.

Because of laws banning public marijuana consumption and recent additions to the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, hotels now have to obtain a pot hospitality license from the MED in order to allow indoor smoking.  The Patterson already has that permit from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, but it needs local approval to operate. Denver Excise and Licenses Department director Molly Duplechian will ultimately decide whether to grant the Patterson's city license, but a stamp of approval from the hearing officer is a big step forward in Denver's licensing's system.

If approved by the city, the Patterson would become Colorado's first hotel licensed for marijuana use.

"Today was an important step in this process," Chiari said after the March 4 hearing. "Licensing businesses of this kind is the best route forward for the city to be able to regulate and take enforcement action when needed."

Before filing his application, Chiari secured a good-neighbor agreement with registered neighborhood organization Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods Inc., which helped demonstrate "a positive relationship with the neighborhood residents," according to hearing officer Edward Tilbury. There was a lone voice objecting to the application, though.

Dean Mussatti, a residential-property and used-book business owner in the neighborhood, said he opposed the Patterson getting a license, citing a former short-term rental property that allowed marijuana use in 2014. "When [guests] left that property, they entered the neighborhood and were out of control. I had a guest trying to kick down my door at 1 a.m., high," Mussatti said during the March 4 hearing. "I'm very, very concerned that we're going to have a repeat."

Chiari responded that unlike any short-term rental property allowing marijuana use in 2014, his hotel would have to follow current state and city marijuana hospitality rules, which Denver adopted in 2021. The rules include required odor and smoke ventilation systems and ID checks, and employees must monitor overconsumption and driving by guests. Liquor use would not be allowed in the marijuana parlor, either, but guests could drink in their rooms or have a glass of wine in a separate area of the hotel, Chiari said.

"I'm looking to present a business that doesn't just take full use of the law, but acts in a way that is responsive to the neighborhood," he told the hearing officer.

Chiari successfully rezoned his property in August in order to make it eligible for a pot hospitality permit. He's working with a Philadelphia-based architectural firm to create a steampunk-inspired marijuana lounge, but has set no opening date as he awaits Duplechian's decision.

That's expected to come within the next few weeks.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell