Updated Sep 30, 2022 - News

Tennyson Street's loses beloved local businesses

Tennyson Street during a sunny morning on Sept. 29 in northwest Denver. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

Tennyson Street is losing a bit of its history and charm.

Driving the news: At least three prominent businesses along this busy stretch in northwest Denver announced closures recently.

  • Allegro Coffee Roasters shuttered in May after opening in late 2015, with its parent company, Whole Foods Market, saying it was making operational changes.
  • BookBar announced Monday that the shop and bar will close in January after 10 years in business. The owners cited the city's minimum wage increase as a factor.
  • Nearby, Local 46 will close today after 10 years in the neighborhood. Co-owner Niya Gingerich tells Axios Denver their lease-term ended, and the property is slated for demolition after a recent sale.

Why it matters: These are neighborhood institutions that gave the area its flair and character and provided space to socialize, while contributing to both the fiscal and cultural economy of a community.

Outside Local 46 in Denver's Berkeley neighborhood on Sept. 29. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios Denver

What they're saying: "It's a great loss … for Berkeley, for Denver in general, because there's just not a lot of the old school, relaxed casual vibe places," Gingerich told Axios Denver.

  • Gingerich worries the city's newest residents won't have establishments like Local 46 to call their own.

Reality check: The corridor is far from dead.

  • A visit to the walkable corridor on a recent morning had many passersby strolling along the boulevard, and shops filled with people enjoying a cup of coffee, eating and chatting.

Big picture: Council member Amanda Sandoval, who represents the corridor, supported zoning changes she said provide more predictability. She did this by passing an overlay β€” essentially, special building rules β€” in 2021 requiring new developments to have storefronts on the ground level.

  • While working for City Council member Rafael Espinoza, she supported a bill in 2018 banning controversial slot-homes citywide β€” but it might have been too late for Tennyson Street, since the residences are now a common sight along the strip.
  • Sandoval's connection to the corridor is personal: She grew up working at her family's restaurant, La Casita, which used to be located near 44th and Tennyson streets.
  • "It's so sad to lose these businesses, it feels like they are part of the community," Sandoval told Axios Denver.
Slot homes along Tennyson Street on Sept. 29 in northwest Denver. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios Denver

Flashback: The corridor's commercial history stretches back to the city's trolley days, when the system connected the neighborhood to downtown Denver.

  • The original Elitch Gardens opened near Tennyson and 38th streets, providing a cultural centerpiece in the area, featuring a zoo and theater.

What's next: The most recent proposed plans for the current Local 46 site call for a mixed-used, three-story building with 5,500 square feet of retail and 84 housing units, according to the city's planning office.


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