The city of Lakewood has approved an entertainment district spanning the boundaries of the Belmar shopping district, paving the way for a common consumption area to be established.
That, in turn, would allow those of age to consume to-go alcoholic beverages in the designated zone.
The Lakewood City Council voted 10-1 on Monday to approve the application, with Councilman Rich Olver casting the sole no vote.
The Colorado legislature gave municipalities the power to approve common consumption areas in 2011. The process to create one is somewhat convoluted, however.
Businesses with liquor licenses must create a “promotional association,” then apply to create an entertainment district with specific boundaries. Only then can the association apply for a common consumption area, comprising some or all of the entertainment district.
Olver noted that the Belmar Entertainment District boundaries span the entirety of the shopping district, which includes Target, Whole Foods, a hotel, a Century 16 movie theater and numerous other large and small retailers and restaurants. The district is 27.4 acres, according to the application.
“I don’t understand why it has to be so big. Why not just make it all of Lakewood?” Olver asked sarcastically. “It just looks like overkill to me.”
Lakewood Planning Director Travis Parker clarified that the common consumption area likely to be approved down the road will only be a subset of the entertainment district.
“It would likely be the plaza, the area surrounding the plaza,” Parker said, referring to an area across from the movie theater. “It would not be this entire area of Belmar. But the businesses in this district would be able to be members of the promotional association that controls the common consumption area.”
Lakewood voted to allow entertainment districts earlier this year. Belmar — which got a new owner in the summer of 2021 — was the first to apply, and will now need to separately apply for the common consumption area.
Cities like Aurora, Fort Collins, Greeley and Telluride have already approved common consumption areas. The Denver City Council voted last year, in a general sense, to allow them.
But Eric Escudero, spokesman for Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses, told BusinessDen Wednesday that the city has received no applications for a common consumption area or entertainment district.
In an email, Escudero cited a couple possible reasons for that, noting that the city allowed expanded outdoor dining during the pandemic, including some spots that served multiple alcohol-serving businesses. He said those areas have “a few similarities to a common consumption area but also big differences.”
“We have also heard anecdotally that some liquor licensed establishments are having difficulty filling staff needs with their current serving area and do not have the staffing capacity to consider a common consumption area at this time,” Escudero said.