A tenant-landlord feud is back on in RiNo.
Developer Ken Wolf has once again posted signs on the doors of his businesses, including the Denver Central Market food hall, telling those working for his landlord Edens to stay away.
“Edens personnel/agents are not welcome to eat or drink in this establishment,” the notices read. “Edens personnel/agents are only allowed to bring prospective tenants on these premises if they are interested in leasing in this specific building. If in violation of these terms, violators will be asked to leave the premises.”
On Wednesday, in addition to the food hall, the signs could be found on doors leading to restaurants Il Posto and Sushi-Rama, cocktail bar Honey and Gerard’s Pool Hall. Wolf owns a stake, although not necessarily a majority, in each.
Wolf previously posted the signs in 2021, putting them up and taking them down multiple times between the summer and early fall. At the time, Wolf and Edens — a national firm specializing in retail real estate — were engaged in litigation over the business’ lease terms.
The signs came down when the lawsuits were dismissed in September 2021. Now, a year and a half later, they’re back up.
Wolf and Edens have more of a history than the typical tenant-landlord relationship. Wolf, an early force behind RiNo’s transformation, previously owned the buildings where his businesses operate. In 2018, entities he managed sold the real estate to Edens for more than $50 million, and he became, in his words, the company’s largest tenant locally.
The top local executive for Edens didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment this week.
Wolf, however, said the first sign went back up in early February, and that he gave Edens “fair warning” he planned to do so.
“I said, ‘On Monday, the signs are going into Denver Central Market. On Tuesday, they’re going into Il Posto, on Wednesday — I kept doing that,” Wolf said.
Wolf said he put the signs back up due to two issues unrelated to the previous dispute.
“I’ve had a couple issues with Edens regarding full access to our mechanical systems at the Denver Central Market, and some CAM (common area maintenance) charges that I think were inappropriate,” he said. “I’ve been trying for over a year to get these resolved.”
The mechanical systems for the Denver Central Market building are on the roof, Wolf said. When he owned the building, he or his subtenants — the market’s food stalls — could go up as needed to quickly address any issues. But that access has since been cut off, he said, even though he believes his lease requires it.
“We have to make a phone call, and if there’s an emergency we can’t get to it. We’ve had all kinds of problems with the A/C system,” Wolf said, adding that summer is coming and the market’s vendors are anxious.
Wolf said he had the signs reprinted because he felt like the tactic worked last time.
“If this doesn’t work, we’ll probably be back in the courthouse,” he said.
Wolf also said he’s trying to create an “Edens RiNo tenant association” because he feels the company actively discourages its tenants from communicating or working with each other to address concerns such as security.
After buying Wolf’s holdings, Edens has gone on to purchase other nearby real estate from other parties. A complex deal to secure the Volunteers of America block last year, which Edens plans to redevelop, brought the company’s total spent in the neighborhood to about $100 million. High-profile brands including Patagonia and Burton are among those that rent RiNo space from Edens.
Although Wolf isn’t currently battling Edens in court, he does have one ongoing lawsuit. In November, Wolf sued the Voicebox Karaoke chain, which had a RiNo location in an Edens-owned building at 2601 Walnut St. between 2016 and 2022.
The lawsuit accuses Voicebox of diverting $1.2 million in profits from the RiNo karaoke bar to failing locations elsewhere in the country, keeping the money from reaching investors like Wolf.
The case has crept along at a slow pace, frustrating Denver District Court Judge Mark Bailey. On Monday, Bailey ordered Wolf attorney Chris Baumgartner to explain why he hasn’t moved the case forward, and threatened to throw the case out if Baumgartner cannot explain.
Justin Wingerter contributed reporting.