Olde Town Arvada is the latest suburban neighborhood in the metro area to take a step toward allowing visitors to wander around with an alcoholic beverage, while Denver continues to see no takers on the concept.
The Arvada City Council voted 6-0 earlier this month, with one member absent, to approve an entertainment district application for Olde Town Arvada.
Becoming an entertainment district allows businesses that are in areas closed off to vehicle traffic to create an association and apply for a common consumption area, which then allows customers to drink and roam. The setup is the result of a state law passed in 2011.
The district approved last week encompasses all 41.5 acres of Olde Town Arvada, which spans from Ralston Road to Grandview Avenue and Yukon Street to Upham Street.
For Olde Town, that means just under 30 businesses with liquor licenses in the pedestrian mall area between Grandview Avenue, Webster Street and Olde Wadsworth Boulevard would be able to serve to-go alcoholic beverages. Olde Town Arvada Business Improvement District (BID) submitted the application on behalf of its constituents.
“I think the entertainment district statute definitely could be revised in order to better serve a community like Olde Town Arvada,” BID Director Joe Hengstler told BusinessDen. “The number one suggestion we would have is eliminating the requirement that common consumption areas require a closed street. That does force our hand to exclude businesses from being able to participate.”
Hengstler said the setup could also come in handy when Olde Town hosts festivals or special events. Arvada voted to allow entertainment districts last year, and Olde Town was the first to apply. Hengstler said common consumption was allowed to some degree during the pandemic to support businesses in the area.
“That really helped our businesses survive and really thrive during that time,” Hengstler said. “Using it (the entertainment district) to draw more entertainment and families down here is just beneficial to us.”
Other cities such as Greeley, Telluride and more recently Lakewood’s Belmar have approved entertainment districts. Denver approved entertainment districts and thus common consumption in theory two years ago, but as of this month had yet to see an application from someone to actually establish a district, according to Eric Escudero, spokesman for Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses
“Business circumstances have changed since Denver lawmakers authorized the creation of the common consumption area license,” Escudero said.
Notably, he said staff shortages, Denver’s Outdoor Places Program — which allows businesses to set up outdoor patios — and new event liquor licenses “have reduced the desires” for common consumption areas. He said the city is seeing an increase in liquor license holders.
“The city is determined to continue our support of the hospitality industry recovery, which still may one day include a common consumption area in Denver, and could have a very positive economic impact for many areas,” Escudero said.