Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Jesse Morreale's First Avenue Hotel slapped with notices to vacate...again

Yes, that's the entrance to El Diablo, the restaurant in the big corner space of the old First Avenue Hotel building -- which was tagged, again, this morning with "Danger" signs and a notice to vacate...immediately. Two city officials, accompanied by a Denver police officer, posted the notices shortly after six this morning, as the kitchen crew was prepping for the day.

The notice to vacate, dated January 4, cites the original notices posted on July 10, when the circa 1906 building was first tagged by the city as an unsafe structure, citing agreed-upon work that had not been completed since the First Avenue Hotel had been given a temporary occupancy permit two years before. El Diablo and its sibling restaurant, Sketch, were closed for weeks before an emergency hearing on July 30 before the Board of Appeals determined that the building could reopen while owner Jesse Morreale worked with the city to determine what work, exactly, was required.

The first deadline set for that agreement was October 1, then October 31, and then the city pushed it back again until December 31. According to Andrea Burns, spokeswoman for the Denver Department of Community Planning, a letter was sent yesterday to Morreale's attorney noting that none of the repairs had been made, and no work plan was in place. That letter did not mention that the building would be slapped with a notice to vacate this morning.

Morreale, who hurried to his building this morning after hearing about the posting, says that he had sent three reports from structural engineers to the city, all verifying that the building is structurally sound. And he promises that El Diablo, which is still dressed up for the holidays, will be open today. Keep reading for the city's letter to Morreale's attorney.

Here's the January 3 letter from the city to attorney Jack Reutzel:

notice to vacate

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun