Signage continues to accumulate (read the print here) as the El Diablo and Sketch saga boils. Owner Jesse Morreale is meeting with Denver officials this morning to address the closure of both restaurants inside the First Avenue Hotel building, which was deemed unsafe and hazardous to the public two weeks ago. Since the sudden closures, which left a reported 130-150 employees without jobs, Morreale has opened both restaurants inside Rockbar on East Colfax and entered a heated battle with the City of Denver about the measures taken against his properties.
In written correspondence published on Westword's Latest Word this morning, it's clear that Morreale and Kelly Leid, Director Development Services for the City and County of Denver, disagree about the details listed in a work plan to keep the First Avenue Hotel in top notch condition. It appears there was a complete communication breakdown, and in the words of Denver Post columnist Vincent Carroll, "Given the gravity of the concern — a four-story building collapsing into rubble during high wind! — you'd naturally suppose something must have happened in the past few weeks to trigger the city's alarm."
It's all up in the air. Stay tuned for developments.
Dear supporters of El Diablo/Sketch:
I am writing you as a friend of Jesse Morreale's relating to the City's recent closing of 101 Broadway. I worked for 8-years as the Director of Communications for the City of Denver, was Head of Public Affairs for RTD, VP of Marketing & Advertising for Frontier Airlines, and currently I am the Founder & President of AndrewHudsonsJobList.com
I know you may have received an email from the City of Denver relating to this issue, but I wanted to also write and clarify and correct some of the misleading points they have made to you.
At the request of Jesse, I spent hours reviewing documents relating to this matter. At first, I was suspect. How could this building just be suddenly deemed 'unsafe' after having been in operation for 3 years or having been standing upright for 106 years? I spent three mornings reading documents and quizzing Jesse to figure out what I might be missing. Every time I thought that there must be something that Jesse didn’t do, or there was some validity to the City's position, it was met with evidence that proved me otherwise. Permits and certificates signed by various City agencies, engineers, fire officials, emails, communications, letters, etc., etc. He has documented EVERYTHING and at every turn it contradicts the City's statements and official positions on this matter. Independent structural engineers have sent certified letters to the City that his building poses no risk and that it is safe for occupancy.
Jesse has spent MILLIONS renovating an historic building that was a blight on the community.
His building is NOT unsafe and it has NOT BEEN unsafe for 106 years.
New fire detection and suppression systems, plumbing, electrical and gas systems have been installed. Xcel even has even installed a new transformer to provide efficient energy to 101 Broadway. And as the neighbors know, the exterior facade has also been restored, bringing this historic structure back to its architectural glory.
The City's approval to operate his business for the past three years confirms it is a SAFE building. When you go through the variety of documents, communications, City agency permits and approvals throughout the past 3 years, you'll see that the City has consistently confirmed that the building IS SAFE! I've had one engineer tell me that if the City was to apply the same building standards to the Brown Palace, the Oxford Hotel or even City Hall or the State Capitol, they could claim these buildings were unsafe as well! And we'd all say it was ludicrous!
Mayor Hancock can untangle the mess the City's heavy-handed bureaucrats have created and let citizens and businesses know that he won't stand for this kind of behavior. At the very least, he should appoint an independent monitor to come in and go through every document and interview every City inspector and engineer to get to the bottom of this.
What kind of message is this sending to businesses considering relocating to Denver or considering expanding in Denver? What kind of message does this send to citizens that the City is willing to put 130 employees on the unemployment line - without any warning, or cost an independent small business owner half a million dollars, like they have cost Jesse?
Thank you for your interest in this issue and for supporting Jesse and the Historic Baker Neighborhood.
Jesse, per City rules, has filed an appeal, which the City scheduled for this Monday, July 30, at 8:30 a.m. Room 4.F.6 The Board of Appeals will hear Jesse's argument and also will hear from citizens who wish to speak on behalf of 101 Broadway. We know this is last minute, but I urge everyone to get involved and attend this meeting.
· Denver's Plan to Boost Unemployment: Recklessly Close Restaurants [DP]
· Save El Diablo and Sketch! [Official Site]
· Official Correspondence Between Jesse Morreale and The City [Latest Word/Westword]
· All El Diablo/Sketch Saga Coverage [-EDen-]