Jesse Morreale's fight with the city doesn't end at Rockbar -- the First Avenue Hotel is next
Jesse Morreale has decided he can't fight city hall on two fronts. And so after last call on Saturday, October 27, he'll close Rockbar, the hipster hangout he opened in the motel at 3015 East Colfax Avenue that he bought almost seven years ago; the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses declined to renew Rockbar's liquor license earlier this month.
El Diablo, still open...for now?
The other front? The First Avenue hotel, the circa 1905 building at 101 Broadway that Morreale purchased over four years ago with help from the city. Now Morreale is facing an October 31 deadline from the city there.
- Rockbar will close this weekend after a goodbye bash
- City plans to extend deadline on First Avenue Hotel to October 31
- Slide show: 1:30 a.m. at Rockbar
Two years after Morreale opened Rockbar in a rundown motel at 3015 East Colfax Avenue that he renamed the All-Inn -- he planned to put a boutique hotel in the place, but the plunging economy took that idea down with it -- Morreale purchased the First Avenue Hotel. The dilapidated, circa 1905 building had been empty for years (the top floors far longer than that); eager to get development going along that stretch of Broadway, the city even kicked in with a loan from the Office of Economic Development. And after more than a year of work, Morreale opened two restaurants in the building, first Sketch and then El Diablo.
But he did so under temporary permits, and in July the city suddenly red-tagged the structure as unsafe, ordering that it be vacated immediately. And so the building and both restaurants were closed for three weeks, until a Board of Appeals ruling determined that Morreale could reopen the First Avenue until October 1, while he and the city worked to get on the same page.
The Denver Department of Community Planning and Development subsequently gave Morreale until October 31 to come up with an acceptable work plan for modifications that the city says are required. The problem? Morreale doesn't agree that any repairs need to be done. And discussion has been largely stalled for a month.
Asked this week for an update on the status of the First Avenue Hotel, Andrea Burns, spokesman for Community Planning, sent this:
We have given the property owner guidance on the need to make meaningful progress in resolving outstanding work plan items for 101 N. Broadway, per the Board of Appeals July 2012 ruling. At month's end the City will assess next steps based upon what -- if any -- progress has been made on building repairs. As of today, the property owner has not submitted anything new from the work plan for Development Services to review.
Keep reading for a response from Morreale.