City denies permit for controversial Smash in the Square art festival in Cherry Creek

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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A planned festival in Cherry Creek that had drawn outcry from local residents has been denied an occupancy permit, Denver’s Office of Special Events said Thursday.

Organizers for the Smash in the Square event scheduled to be held on the 200 block of South Jackson Street on August 18 and 19 were informed their street occupancy permit had been denied, according to an email from special events communications and outreach specialist Jill Thiare.

“Additionally, the city is reviewing internal processes to prevent this kind of unique scenario from happening again,” Thiare wrote in the email. “Thank you again for speaking out about this event and please know that when Mayor (Michael) Hancock was made aware of this situation, he completely understood and empathized with neighborhood concerns.”

The planned event had drawn the ire of nearby residents. Denver7 reported some residents felt like they were the last to know. The news station identified Anthony Constantino Jr. as the festival organizer.

Bob Tate and Nancy Austin, co-presidents of the Cherry Creek East Association RNO Board, last month sent a letter to Mayor Hancock expressing concerns over how the event was initially approved without what they felt was proper notification or input from local residents. The two said their objections to the event were “arrogantly and blithely dismissed.”

The letter referenced Hancock’s state of the city address and the city’s willingness to involve citizens in local decisions.

“While the City of Denver may have discharged its ‘minimum required’ RNO notification responsibility, it failed to serve its citizens well,” a portion of the letter read. “Common sense as implied by your State of The City presentations would suggest that at a minimum those approving the event ensure that nearby residents are involved and asked their opinion. To do otherwise represents the type of arrogant and high handed governmental behavior that angers voters and which you have said you oppose.”

In an email Thursday addressed to Constantino, Denver Public Works outlined the two reasons why the street occupancy permit was denied, including insurance requirements not being met. The first reason was lengthy:

The street occupancy permit request falls outside Public Works’ standards for either a special event, or a block party. The standard special event street occupancy permit is not intended to allow for the use and occupancy of a completely residential street.  Block party permits are intended for residential areas, however block parties cannot be permitted for non-profit or for-profit entities, but only residents of the specific residential block being requested

According to the event website, the fine-arts festival was supposed to showcase, “the most renowned fine-artists in Colorado and nationally.”

Constantino issued a statement via email on Friday: “The show’s promoter Anthony Constantino Jr. is currently working with the City/County of Denver and the Cherry Creek residents on a unifying, peaceful resolution.”

This story has been updated throughout.