Cafe Society

Will a nearby school put a halt to Welton Street's resurrection?

As we reported yesterday in Cafe Bites, there have been numerous roadblocks to the redevelopment of the strip of Welton Street that's at the heart of Five Points -- some anticipated, some surprising. The most recent? The Tubman Hilliard Global Academy, a new school at 2741 Welton that's good news for the neighborhood but bad news for entrepreneurs who'd like to open a bar or restaurant in a building within 500 feet of the school -- which would violate state liquor code.

The American Legion's attempt to revive B.J.'s Port, a long-ago jazz joint at 28th and Welton, fell flat earlier this year when the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses ruled that it was too close to the school and denied a new liquor license. But the developers of the Rossonian Hotel, the area's major landmark at 2650 Welton that once housed legendary jazz artists, are confident their building is outside the 500-foot boundary.

"We're within a few feet," says Chris Coble, who's working on the project with Carl Bourgeois. "As far as we can tell, we're okay." And so they're proceeding with plans that call for putting office space on the second and third floors, then opening a restaurant on the first floor -- there's talk about an outpost of a Washington, D.C., eatery -- in February 2012. But first, they'll replace all of the building's systems early next year.

"We are really working hard to make 2011 the year to deliver, because 2012 is the hundredth anniversary of the Rossonian," Coble explains. "We plan to throw a celebratory party."

And a revived Rossonian will truly be something to celebrate.

Nearby, there will soon be more reason to celebrate. The Crossroads Theater, at 2590 Washington Street, was taken over by the city this year, after its previous owner had let the liquor license lapse. Although events at Crossroads have been dry for the past few months, Aramark, which will be running concessions there come January, has applied for a new license -- and the facility should have no problem getting it under the state's twelve-month reissuance rule, says Penny May, director of Excise and Licenses.

And right next door at Coffee at the Point, the owner came up with a novel way to get around the state's liquor code, as Jenn Wohletz reported here.

Follow @CafeWestword on Twitter

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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