Haunted Denver Hotel Applies for Marijuana Hospitality License

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
Denver was supposed to begin accepting applications for a new marijuana hospitality program today, November 11, according to the City of Denver's website, and a Capitol Hill hotel owner jumped at the opportunity to become eligible to open a marijuana lounge.

Chris Chiari, owner of the Patterson Inn at 420 East Eleventh Avenue, says he applied with the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses for a pot hospitality license and paid the required $2,000 application fee; he even received an email from the city saying that his application has been accepted.

But according to department spokesman Eric Escudero, the official application rollout was actually intended for later this week; November 11 is Veterans Day, a holiday for city employees, and for a time today, the city's site was even down. As a result, Chiari's application "isn't official yet," he says, adding that  the email acknowledgment was automatic.

"I feel like my application is submitted," says Chiari, who has yet to be contacted by the city regarding the glitch.

Who files first makes a difference, because locations are limited. City rules ban hospitality licenses from being located within 1,000 feet of any daycare center, drug treatment center and city-owned park, pool or recreation center. The 1,000-foot buffer also applies to the distance from other hospitality licensees, which could lead to a competitive application process between would-be business owners located within 1,000 feet of each other.

Escudero says the department wants to ensure that potential applicants all start at the same time, given the rules. The Patterson is shooting for a hospitality-only license, but mobile hospitality licenses and hospitality licenses with micro-sales permits are available as well.  "So far there hasn't been a ton of questions about hospitality," says Escudero. "We don't expect a huge rush of applications, but we won't know until people start applying."

Starting with Chiari.
click to enlarge An announcement on Denver Excise and Licenses' website on the morning of November 11. - DENVER EXCISE AND LICENSES WEBSITE SCREENSHOT
An announcement on Denver Excise and Licenses' website on the morning of November 11.
Denver Excise and Licenses website screenshot
Chiari bought the Patterson Inn in 2018 with the hope of creating a marijuana-friendly parlor space, but he didn't think conversion was feasible under the city's former social pot consumption program, which didn't allow indoor smoking, so the project was shelved. Denver City Council approved an overhaul of local marijuana social consumption rules in April, however, including rules that permitted indoor smoking with proper ventilation.

Chiari successfully rezoned the Patterson into a mixed-use property to make it eligible for the city's new hospitality program, then waited for the application period to begin. In the meantime, he added a new unit address at the Patterson: Suite 420, which will serve as a marijuana consumption area for guests. He plans to build out the first floor of the hotel's carriage house and install a ventilation system for indoor smoking, and says he's currently working on final drafts for construction.

"I’m proud to be the owner and caretaker of this castle on a hill in Capitol Hill, and I’m excited to add to the history of the house with this next step toward cannabis normalization," Chiari says. "The final mile in cannabis legalization is hospitality and consumption destinations. So much work still to do, and every success opens the door to more work."

All new marijuana business applicants (outside of prospective owners of marijuana testing labs) in Denver must qualify under a social equity designation intended to benefit communities harmed by the drug war. Chiari says he qualifies because his sister was "arrested multiple times" for cannabis possession. Under the city's social equity rules, having a drug charge or being related to someone with a drug charge qualifies.

Colorado hotels can allow outdoor marijuana smoking on their properties, but the vast majority ban pot consumption. If approved by the city and the state, the Patterson Inn would become Colorado's first hotel licensed for marijuana use. Chiari says he has a pending hospitality application with the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, another requirement for social consumption businesses.

Built in 1890, the Croke Patterson Mansion was named after the property's builder, Thomas B. Croke, and eventual owner, Thomas M. Patterson. During renovations to the property in the 1970s, workers began reporting voices, odd smells and occasional spiritual encounters. The Patterson is now a popular stop for local ghost tours and lists of Colorado haunts, and Chiari has his own stories.

Now he'll be able to add his delayed application to the Patterson's mysterious tales.
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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
Contact: Thomas Mitchell