Parking brews at Amato’s

Breckenridge Brewery is working to resolve parking issue on the site of this landmark location, which will provide stunning views of the skyline.

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Parking – or the lack of it – took center-stage at a neighborhood meeting this week concerning what will be the largest restaurant in the trendy LoHi neighborhood – the latest Breckenridge Brewery restaurant, on the site of the former Amato’s garden decor center, a mainstay of the neighborhood for 88 years.

Close to 50 people attended the Highland United Neighborhs Inc. meeting, which stretched more than three hours last Tuesday to discuss the restaurant, schedule to open in late February in a renovated building, which will include an addition and two patios, including a roof-top deck.

Breckenridge Ale bought the property on April 1 for $2.1 million, according to public records. It will be known as the Ale House at Amato’s, according to Breckenridge Brewery’s liquor license application.

Parking sparks sides

“It was indeed,” a lively meeting, said Kristin Morley, president of HUNI. “It was nothing unexpected. Anything as large as a project like this is going to attract attention.”

The restaurant will run along 16th Street, just across Central Street from the 16th Street pedestrian bridge, which links Lohi to LoDo.

A number of issues were discussed, but the hottest topic was parking. Morley noted that parking already is tight in the neighborhood, and with more businesses, restaurants and residential on the drawing board for the area, that is a problem that is not going to go away.

This notice of the liquor license application is posted on the iron fence surrounding Amato's at 16th and Central streets.

She said that some people at the meeting were concerned how Breckenridge Brewery did its filings, which she said straddle the old and new zoning rules. The site had been zoned PRV, for Platte River Valley zoning, but under the recently enacted zoning law is now zoned C-MX-5, which is an “urban center,” designation.

No brewery opposition present

“There were two sides, but no one (at the meeting) was in opposition to Amato’s/Breckenridge Brewery,” Morley said. “The biggest thing was parking.”

The restaurant owners and representatives said they had reserved 60 nearby parking spaces for five years, with an option to lease them for another five years. However, the owners do not want a permanent parking requirement attached to its liquor license, because if they ever lost their parking spaces, they would lose their ability to serve liquor.

The HUNI board decided to attach a parking requirement to what is called a Good Neighbor Agreement, instead of the liquor license. The GNA is still being drafted by former board member Todd Cole, who said he will have the details worked out before the liquor license hearing on Sept. 17.

“We don’t have the power to veto a liquor license,” Morley said. “But if both sides sign the Good Neighbor Agreement, it does show the temperature of the neighborhood.” If the brewery does not sign the GNA, that would be submitted at the liquor licence hearing.

 Cole, a former HUNI board member and chair of the GNA committee, said he is not publicly stating his thoughts about the new restaurant, because he wants to remain objective when dealing with HUNI. He noted that he neither votes nor makes recommendations to the board, in an effort to be as fair as possible.

“The meeting did get pretty contentious on both sides,” Cole said. And he noted that while no one opposed the restaurant at the meeting, he received e-mails and phone calls from people in the neighborhood who do oppose it. “There are some people who are concerned about the long-term impact of a restaurant of this size on the neighborhood,” Cole said. “But I would like to emphasize, if people want their voices to be heard, they need to show up at meetings,” when issues are being discussed.

Each side scored

One person who attended the meeting, and spoke on the condition that she not be identified, was impressed by the arguments on both side.

“A lot of times you go to these type of meetings and you have your crackpots on one side, and your people on the other side who are trying to be rational and reasonable,” she said. “At this meeting, I found myself nodding my head in agreement when one person spoke and then when someone took the other side, I could see it from their perspective, too. I thought it was interesting that both sides made a lot of sense.

Cole does thinks it it unfortunate that the city isn’t requiring parking under the C-MX-5 zoning.

“The one thing I will say is that I think it is a shame that the new zoning did not require any parking spaces,” Cole said. “It is a shame that it was left up to the neighborhood to have this as a concession.”

Cole said he believes the restaurant will have seating for around 380, which he believes will make it the largest restaurant so far in LoHi.

Cole said he will include a specific number of parking spaces needed within a reasonable walk of the restaurant.

Good neighbor requires more than parking

Other parts of the GNA will deal with hours when the patio can be open; what time exterior speakers need to be turned off so as not to disturb nearby residents; guarantees that the restaurant will clean up any cigarette butts, trash from patrons and graffiti; and restrictions on when they can dump beer bottles.

“I used to live in a loft next to Rock Island (a former downtown nightclub), and it was loud and obnoxious when they dumped beer bottles at 4 a.m.,” Cole said. “I could just imagine what it would be like if you had a baby, and you weren’t getting much sleep anyway.”

He said the GNA probably will prohibit bottles being dumped between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“Female-friendly” menu, view to die for

Dan Strammiello, a project manager for the restaurant, said it will have a total of 7,852 square feet, including the existing building and an addition.

He said it is going to be a “restaurant-bar,” as opposed to a “bar-restaurant.”

“It’s going to be 65 percent food, and 35 percent liquor,” Strammiello said. “They’re not going to brew beer there. It will not be modeled after the Breckenridge Brewery downtown or along Kalamath. It will be modeled after the Breckenridge Brewery in Grand Junction.”

He said the restaurant will feature a “very female-friendly menu. When you go to most brewpub-type places, the food is mostly burgers and brats. This restaurant will offer more salads and fish dishes. And if they are sitting on the patio, they can look at the downtown skyline.”

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Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com or 303-945-6865.

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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Comments

  1. Cole needs to realize that he lives in an urban neighborhood, not in the suburbs. By tacking on parking requirements, you’re only inviting more automobile traffic into the neighborhood. Mass transit, walking, and biking have to be the primary mode of transportation here, especially when the restaurant is going to be less than a half-mile from THE metro transportation hub – Union Station. As a Lower Highland resident, this kind of thinking makes me cringe, and is exactly the kind of thinking that led to the wholesale demolition (DURA) of entire blocks of downtown and surrounding areas. We need to move passed these kind of urban planning disasters.

  2. Hey! Dirt, it’s time for you to smarten-up. Businesses are nice things. They provide jobs and stuff. Parking is essential to their operation. It is hard to operate if you are relying on the stained Spandex and sweaty walking crowd as your only source of business. Real people will want to go there, too!

    As for all those Hobo Hotels that were torn down; good riddance. They didn’t provide a nickels worth of revenue for all those social programs that I’m sure you are in love with. Don’t you think it is time for you to move to Cheraw, CO, where parking is not a problem and you don’t even need a bicycle to get around?

    Ted Williams once said, “If you don’t think too good; don’t think too much.” I think you resemble that remark.

  3. Sorry Heavens, not a very well though out argument. You should probably take Ted’s advice.

    My opinion… yes, even business know how important parking is but you are in a very urban area with high density and access to major public transportation. As you read in the article they are accommodating patrons with parking, lots of parking, 7.6 spaces per 1000 SF. That is higher than most city requirements for suburban restaurants. It just may be temporary. 10-20 years from now that parking lot will be much more valuable for development than parking, densities will increase and Fast Tracks will be finished. Look at restaurants like Sushi Den, no parking… Wash Park Grill, no parking… Lucile’s, no parking… Pasquini’s, Sushi Hai, Lola, Vita, No Parking, No Parking, No Parking, No Parking… Some of Denver’s best restaurants in high density neighborhoods. Could you imagine Denver with-out these institution’s? I wouldn’t want to live here…

  4. Honey, Have been to all of the restaurants that you mention. Hardly institutions, some are decent restaurants. Every one of them would better serve their clientele and would be a far better NEIGHBOR if there were parking available. If you think that automobiles are going away anytime soon, you are smoking the wrong brand of whatever you smoke. The time frame you mention for the coming metropolis puts you in a category of thinker that believes the world’s energy needs can be met with windmills. And, windmills there are; in your head. The clouds surrounding them have completely obscured your processing of information; the response was to Dirt! Now, put on your Spandex and bike to Cheraw where you and Dirt will form a crowd. TaTa! Ted was right.

  5. Dirt,
    I wish to convey to you that any requirements in a GNA are not my own. Including parking. These are the wishes and concerns of the neighbors. It is my responsibility as chair of the Good Neighbor Committee to make sure all sides are heard in order to come to a fair and hopefully a symbiotic relationship between the neighbors and the proprietors. Once again, I do not make any recommended decisions, nor do I vote on any Good Neighbor issues.

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