The owners of a Highland day-care center, who objected in June to The Clinic, a medical marijuana center, moving into the neighborhood, sold their business and building to the MMC earlier this month, allowing the pot shop to finally open their doors last Saturday after a two-month delay.
The Clinic was just days away from opening their new location on West 32nd in June when owners of All In A Day's Play went on 9News to complain that the MMC was just 800 feet from their doors -- 200 feet shy of the 1,000 feet mandated by state law. That oversight caused the dispensary delay their opening indefinitely until something could be figured out.
At the time, the MMC's owners were being hush-hush about what had happened. But we've since caught up with general manager Ryan Cook, who gives us his take on the strange sequence of events. Cook explains that the problem began when The Clinic and All In A Day's Play submitted their applications to the city around the same time. Cook says the day-care center wasn't open at the time the Clinic purchased their building, nor when he was going through the initial licensing phase.
Due to a runaround with the Denver Department of Excise and Licensing over modifying the building, Cook says the center's opening was pushed back until late June. During that time, the sign for the day care went up and city inspectors got a tip that the MMC would be 200 feet shy of the 1,000 feet limit.
In their interview on 9News, the day-care owners said the MMC would be a detriment to the neighborhood and pointed to safety concerns for not only the children they watched, but all children in the area . "I think it could hurt the general neighborhood," one said. "Parents looking to move in might think twice if just down the street is a dispensary."
Never mind the numerous liquor stores, restaurants and bars along the strip. It was this one dispensary that the day-care center's owners couldn't stomach.
"At that point, there wasn't much we could do," Cook says. "We really hoped at the time that we could have an open dialog with the day care." When he was finally able to meet with them, in August, they were respectful, "but clearly not changing their minds." The meeting ended with the day-care owners saying they would think things over and get back to The Clinic owners.
A week later, Cook got a call from a broker wanting to know if The Clinic was interested in purchasing both the daycare and the building down the street. The deal was reasonable enough and would make it possible to finally open their long-delayed MMC. So he accepted the deal. Cook won't go into specifics about the price tag, saying only that the cost was close to market value, but probably more than the business was worth. Zillow.com estimates the building's value at $116,700 for a space estimated in one listing at 420 square feet.
Colette Hansen and Ashley Trumbull, former owners of the day-care center, didn't return calls or e-mails, but they did leave a rather vague message on the All In A Day's Play website last week. The note mentions the sale of the building and business, but nothing about the fact that it went to the owners of the very MMC they were fighting against:
"It is with great sadness that we are informing you of the center's closure. It has been an amazing and wonderful almost two years but, unfortunately there have been some significant personal changes in both our lives which have lead to this decision.
In light of these changes we contacted a personal friend and realtor to find out about what our options for selling the building are, as most of you know we purchased our building space as we planned to be a part of this great community for years to come. As it turns out there is great demand for space in the Highland's neighborhood and a contract was negotiated quickly. Things have been progressing rather quickly and the buyer is anxious to acquire our space.
The closing of our center comes with heavy hearts but, in light of our personal changes we need to evaluate what is best for our families and unfortunately closing the center is part of that. We have enjoyed every minute of our adventure in running our center and will miss all the children and families we have come to know so well."
In short: the MMC wasn't good for their families or any family in that neighborhood a few months ago -- but once they figured out they could sell their business and building for a profit, those objections flew out the window.
Cook says that despite the 9News article painting the neighborhood as anti-MMC, he's had nothing but support from nearby neighbors and business owners since opening the doors on Saturday. "The real feedback I'm getting is that people are pumped," he allows. "They have no problem with us being here."
Here's the original 9News report:
Click to check out William Breathes's review of The Clinic's Colfax location.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.