The former home of Beta, a one-time world-renowned nightclub that experienced a reputational nosedive in recent years, has a new owner.
"Everybody and their mother are interested in that building, supposedly," says Walid Maaliki, the owner of Maaliki Motors, who bought the building at 1909 Blake Street in late January. "I've got a couple of guys interested in it."
Maaliki says that he bought the Beta building from Colman Kahn for $5,555,000 on January 24; that price did not include paying overdue taxes and buying out leases, according to Maaliki. Kahn had previously leased the venue to Valentes Corleons, an aspiring nightclub entrepreneur whose legal name is Hussam Kayali. That landlord-tenant relationship ended with Beta losing its liquor license and being declared a public nuisance in January 2022.
But Maaliki, who works in both the car and real estate industries, doesn't want to run a bar or club at 1909 Blake Street, and instead hopes to sell or lease the building. "I normally have never gotten into that business, and I really don't want to get into that business," he says, adding that he had someone lined up to buy the place, but that deal fell through.
Still, he says, the building's history as a successful nightclub shows its potential.
Beta got its start in 2008, when Brad Roulier and Mike McCray, two music-industry professionals, founded the original club as a haven for EDM fans. Just five years later, Rolling Stone ranked Beta as the number-one dance club in America. And in 2015, Billboard listed it as one of the 25 greatest dance clubs of all time.
In 2018, Roulier tried to sell the club, but didn't land any deals. Toward the end of that year, 33-year-old Jacob Morton died of an overdose at Beta, and in early 2019, Roulier and McCray shut it down to start a renovation while they looked for additional capital and a new partner.
In late 2019, the club reopened as Beta 2.0, with Corleons, who had experience running LoDo clubs such as Purple Martini and Dorchester Social, brought on as a partner. By the end of the year, Corleons had taken over as operator of the nightclub and turned it into a hip-hop venue.
In March 2020, Roulier and McCray agreed to sell their last stake in Beta to Corleons, who renamed it the Beta Event Center. Days later, COVID-19 led to venue closures throughout Colorado for two months, then restrictions for those that reopened.
That June, DPD sent two undercover female vice detectives into the club on separate Friday nights. On one occasion, one of the detectives was able to enter Beta with a handgun in her waistband despite being searched at the entrance. The two cops also tried to score cocaine from patrons while inside Beta; they were successful once and dealt imitation narcotics another time.
A month later, an off-duty Denver police detective working nights at Beta notified DPD higher-ups that fights were common at the club, and cited a lack of crowd management. That cop also told the department that he regularly saw gang members entering the club, including some who were wearing jean jackets with the words "Park Hill Blood" on the back.
In August 2021, a shooting on the 1900 block of Blake Street left one person dead. Not long after that, the Denver Department of Excise & Licenses issued a show-cause order against Beta, seeking to revoke the club's liquor licenses over violations of multiple laws and codes: Beta allegedly hired unlicensed security guards, didn't post occupancy limits, and allowed drinking after hours, among other things. The department also attempted to nail Beta for the undercover detectives being able to buy the real and fake cocaine.
In September 2021, the Denver City Attorney's Office filed a public-nuisance complaint in Denver County Court, aiming to shut down Beta immediately.
Two months later, an administrative liquor license hearing for Beta featured dramatic testimony from moonlighting cops, detectives and Corleons. During that hearing, evidence showed that Corleons had introduced himself to a cop as a "made man" in the Sicilian Mafia during an inspection; Corleons denied that this was meant as a threat. Police also testified that Corleons had tried to bribe a cop with $10,000 to make the case against Beta go away, an allegation that Corleons denied.
In the early-morning hours of New Year's Day 2022, a fatal shooting left two dead inside Cabin Tap House, the building next door to Beta, at 1919 Blake Street, that Corleons had bought after the Falling Rock Tap House closed. Excise & Licenses ordered Cabin to shut down immediately.
Later that month, Excise & Licenses revoked Beta's liquor license. And both Beta and Cabin were declared public nuisances in county court, which meant they could not reopen until a sale was made.
Not long after the fatal shooting at Cabin, Corleons sold that building to Maaliki, who recently sold it to Brian Ruden, the owner of the Star Buds dispensary chain. The City Attorney's Office notes that the public-nuisance declaration for Cabin was terminated upon the sale of the building, which did not need city approval.
But the City Attorney's Office did have to approve of the sale of Beta, which it ended up doing for Maaliki, so the public nuisance declaration is lifted there, too.
"The Beta building is a lot nicer," says Maaliki. "This is a lot easier to deal with."