Yates Theater Granted a Liquor License Extension, Future Unknown

The future of the Yates Theater is currently unknown. Photos by Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Two years have gone by since liquor and cabaret licenses were originally granted to the Yates Theater on W 44th Avenue and Yates. It has also been two years since anyone’s heard anything about it – until now.

While a liquor license is required to be renewed yearly, applicants who can prove a “good cause” for failure to complete the application process can be granted an extension. Good causes for an extension include things like construction or permitting delays – things outside of an applicant’s control.

In late July 2021, Yates developers applied for an extension to their license application and were granted one. Eric Escudero, Director of Communications at the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, says, “they have until February 6, 2022 to begin operating, or their approved license will become null and void and they will have to start the process of getting the required licensing all over again. If they don’t meet that deadline, they can always apply for another extension.”

Escudero also shared the conditions that apply to the license: all live music must end by 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, by midnight on Thursdays, by 1:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and the business must bring in a bonded, private security company on show nights.

The Denver North Star reached out to developers Ken Wolf and Ari Stutz of Downtown Property Services for comment about what this licensing means for the future of the theater; Wolf referred questions to Stutz, who did not respond.

The only obvious signs of change around the building are a large “For Lease” sign and a “Stop Work Order” for working without a permit taped to the building dated 11/3/20 . Other than that, residents of the Berkeley-Regis neighborhood have been left guessing about what’s next.

Based on those signs, Scott Danenhauer, current president of Berkeley Regis United Neighbors (BRUN), doesn’t know what’s going to happen with the theater and hasn’t heard any news.

BRUN has been heavily involved in the progress of the theater, long before Danenhauer took on his role as president. A December 5, 2018, article in Denverite said that in order for the theater to obtain a liquor license originally, developers needed neighborhood approval. The idea of opening a theater was first brought to a BRUN meeting in 2018.

There were concerns about the opening of a theater like parking, noise, trash, and safety. The two groups eventually compromised and signed a good neighbor agreement which was submitted to the Department of Excise and Licenses on June 12, 2019.

Still, there were some folks unhappy with the decision. Records indicate that 319 people signed petitions in support and 293 people signed in opposition. At the hearing on June 13, 12 individuals testified in support of the application of a liquor license, including the then president of BRUN Niki Schwab, while 21 testified in opposition.

The hearing officer found that those in opposition were unsuccessful in their testimony due to speculation and concerns that were already addressed in the good neighbor agreement. The recommended approval of a liquor license was granted on June 24, 2019.

A nonprofit was then formed, called the Berkeley-Regis Residents Action Coalition (BRRAC), dedicated to combating the theater plans, said Escudero. Online records show the coalition was established July 8, 2019.

And on July 12, 2019, the coalition submitted an objection to the decision that was not upheld. BRRAC was dissolved on July 22, 2021.

For now, neighbors will have to wait and see how developments at the Yates Theater progress this winter.


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