Denver was scheduled to begin accepting applications for a new marijuana hospitality program today, Nov. 11, according to the City of Denver’s website, and a Capitol Hill hotel owner threw himself into the possibility of being eligible to open a marijuana -lounge.
Chris Chiari, owner of the Patterson Inn at 420 East Eleventh Avenue, says he applied with Denver Department of Excise and Licenses for a pot hospitality license and paid the required $ 2,000 application fee; he even received an email from the city stating that his application has been accepted.
But according to a spokesman for the department, Eric Escudero, the official application rollout was actually scheduled for later this week; November 11 is Veterans Day, a public holiday for city employees, and for a period today, the city’s website was even down. As a result, Chiari’s application is “not official yet,” he says, adding that the email confirmation was automatic.
“I feel like my application has been submitted,” said Chiari, who has not yet been contacted by the city regarding the error.
Whoever files first makes a difference because the locations are limited. City rules prohibit hospitality licenses from being located within 1,000 feet of any day care center, a drug treatment center, and a city-owned park, pool, or recreation center. The 1,000-foot buffer also applies to the distance from other hospitality license holders, which can lead to a competitive application process between potential business owners who are within 1,000 apart.
Escudero says the department wants to ensure that potential applicants all start at the same time, given the rules. Patterson is applying for a hospitality-only license, but mobile hospitality licenses and microsales licenses are also available. “So far, there has not been a ton of questions about hospitality,” Escudero says. “We do not expect a huge rush of applications, but we do not know until people start applying.”
Starts with Chiari.
Chiari bought the Patterson Inn in 2018 with the hope of creating a marijuana-friendly living space, but he did not think conversion was possible under the city’s former social pot consumption program, which did not allow indoor smoking, so the project was shelved. However, the Denver City Council approved a revision of local rules for social consumption of marijuana in April, including rules that allowed indoor smoking with proper ventilation.
Chiari transformed Patterson into a mixed-use property to make it eligible for the city’s new hospitality program, and then waited for the application period to begin. Meanwhile, he added a new device address to Patterson: Suite 420, which will serve as a marijuana consumption area for guests. He plans to build the first floor of the hotel’s wagon house and install a ventilation system for indoor smoking, and says he is currently working on the final drafts for the construction.
“I’m proud to be the owner and caretaker of this castle on a hill in Capitol Hill, and I’m excited to add to the history of the house with this next step toward cannabis normalization,” says Chiari. “The last mile in the legalization of cannabis is hospitality and consumption destinations. So much work remains to be done and any success opens the door to more work.”
All new marijuana business applicants (outside of potential owners of marijuana testing laboratories) in Denver must qualify under a social equity designation intended to benefit communities affected by the drug war. Chiari says he is qualified because his sister was “arrested several times” for possession of cannabis. According to the city’s rules of social justice, it is eligible to have a drug charge or to be related to a person with a drug charge.
Colorado hotels can allow outdoor marijuana smoking on their properties, but the vast majority prohibit pot consumption. If approved by the city and state, the Patterson Inn would be Colorado’s first hotel licensed for marijuana use. Chiari says he has a pending application for hospitality with the state Marijuana Enforcement Department, another requirement for social consumer businesses.
Built in 1890, the Croke Patterson Mansion was named after the property’s builder, Thomas B. Croke, and the final owner, Thomas M. Patterson. During property renovations in the 1970s, workers began to report voices, strange odors, and occasional spiritual encounters. Patterson is now a popular stop for local ghost tours and lists of haunts in Colorado, and Chiari has its own stories.
Now he will be able to add his delayed application to Patterson’s mysterious tales.