Number Thirty Eight Hosting Free Concert for 303 Day | Westword

Number Thirty Eight Hosting 303 Day Bash

This could be a last hurrah for the venue.
Number Thirty Eight is at risk of losing its cabaret license.
Number Thirty Eight is at risk of losing its cabaret license. Jon Solomon
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Although the city could soon silence Number Thirty Eight, the massive indoor/outdoor venue at 3560 Chestnut Place still has a big party planned for 303 Day, an unofficial holiday that honors Colorado's first area code.

"Join us for a very special show on 303 Day as we gather to celebrate some of your top artists for an evening of hip-hop and dream pop," Number Thirty Eight urges on its website, pushing the free event that will run from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, with local musicians N3ptune, SF1 and MLady all performing on the indoor stage — despite the warm weather predicted for that day.

But then, Number Thirty Eight is at risk of losing its ability to host live music after a handful of neighbors opposed the annual renewal of the venue's cabaret license, complaining that noise from outdoor shows at Number Thirty Eight had created an unbearable living situation.

On February 6, Boulder lawyer Macon Cowles, who'd been hired by the city to oversee a full-day hearing, issued his recommendation that the Department of Excise and Licenses not renew Number Thirty Eight's cabaret license. In particular, Cowles noted that noise-level measurements from nearby properties had shown that sound at the venue was well above the legal limit.

The final decision on what will happen with the license rests with Molly Duplechian, the interim executive director of Excise and Licenses (her permanent appointment is pending Denver City Council approval).

On February 18, Number Thirty Eight's lawyer, Robert Runco, filed objections to the recommended decision, asking that Duplechian not accept Cowles's recommendation.

"As it relates to the health, welfare and morals of the neighborhood, again, the overwhelming support of the community was that Applicant has a positive impact on the neighborhood. Applicant does not have a history of violations of any of Denver’s Noise or other ordinances and provided a long list of measures it has taken, and continues to make, to ensure it operates lawfully. If, however, the Director has what Applicant believes would be unfounded concerns over whether those changes can continue to ensure lawful operations, Applicant would request reasonable restrictions on its use of the outdoor amplification system for live entertainment until further mitigation is completed," Runco wrote.

On February 25, attorney Tom Downey, a former Excise and Licenses director who is representing the neighbors opposed to the license renewal, sent his response to the department: "The neighbors of Number 38 beg the Director to affirm the Recommended Decision and deny the renewal application for its Cabaret License."

If Number Thirty Eight loses its cabaret license, it will not be able to host live musical performances or even allow patrons to dance to recorded music. It will still be able to serve food and drink, but the owners say that won't be enough to keep the venue in business.

"If the Hearing Officer’s recommendation is adopted, it will effectively close this development," Runco wrote.
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N3ptune is one of the performers at the 303 Day party.
Kori Hazel
Only a handful of people currently live near the venue; Daniel Ritchie moved into his slot home in 2016. "It’s a really unique, wonderful place to live," he says. "It really has this wonderful confluence of everything that one could want from city life in Colorado living."

Ritchie is one of the neighbors fighting the renewal. "We really tried to give them the benefit of the doubt when they opened," he recalls. But soon after Number Thirty Eight opened in October 2020 on the site of a former car parts facility, he and his neighbors were "in shock," he says. "Our homes are just inundated with the noise from the venue."

Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, whose district includes RiNo, spoke at the hearing and said she did not favor renewal of the license. But she also thinks the whole situation might have been avoided if city policy called for noise-level guarantees in advance of licensing.

"In fairness to both the residents and Number Thirty Eight’s owners, this issue should have been identified and addressed during the planning and design phase for the venue, long before it came before Excise and Licenses," she says. "It’s clearly going to be a problem when an outdoor stage is located that close to residential property lines, and I’m troubled that a noise mitigation plan was not required by the city up front. It’s impossible to find a reasonable solution to a situation that was unreasonable from the planning stage. This will continue to be a point of conflict as the area grows."

The 303 Day Party is co-sponsored by Indie 102.3 and
303 magazine at Number Thirty Eight, 3560 Chestnut Place; doors open at 5:30 on Thursday, March 3, and the show starts at 6 p.m., with N3ptune, SF1 and MLady. Admission is free and open to everyone 21 and up; find out more here.
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