Niya Gingerich knew when she founded Local 46 that she might only have 10 years on the ever-changing Tennyson Street strip. The lease for the bar, music venue and (super) casual restaurant at 4586 Tennyson St. ends in December 2021.
“God, when we signed 10 years ago, 10 years sounded like such a long time,” Gingerich said. “And now it’s like, here we are, we only have two seasons left on our original lease.”
While the business’s days may have always been numbered, they seem closer than ever now that owners David Heller and Daniel Jimenez of Berkeley Park Partners have applied for what in Denver can be an omen of change: a demolition permit.
Property owners often file for demo permits to see what options they have should they choose to redevelop. Among other things, the application triggers an inquiry into the historic status of the building. Think Tom’s Diner, Whittier Pub and, recently, the mortuary right across the street from Local 46.
“We’re an open book,” said Heller, who said he and Jiminez are friends with Niya and her husband, who co-owns the bar, and are invested in seeing the business succeed. “We’re exploring our options.”
Historic preservation may limit those options. Residents have until May 11 to file a “notice of intent” to apply for a historic designation on behalf of the 88-year-old building. If the city planning department and Denver City Council deem the building historically significant — maybe because of architecture or because of notable owners or events associated with it — the demo permit could be thrown out. No one had intervened as of April 28, said Laura Swartz with the Denver Department of Community Planning and Development.
Historic Berkeley Regis, advocates for historic preservation in northwest Denver, will not intervene, co-chairs Laurie Simmons and Marie Edgar told Denverite, citing the energy spent on preserving the mortuary across the street. But they did send a letter to the owners.
“Historic Berkeley Regis urges you not to demolish the historic building, which is a familiar and established feature at the entrance to the Tennyson Street commercial district connecting us to our community’s history,” the letter states. “A better choice would be to incorporate it into any future development plans. In its continued life, the building would add exceptional significance, iconic character, and a sense of place to any new development.”
The letter references the original owners, Emery and Mary Barlock, who “immigrated to America in the quest for better lives and pursued the opportunity to own and operate their own business.” It also cites the Music Bar, which occupied the space starting in 1958.
The letter also references Local 46, which has cultivated a community feel since it opened.
“We’ve had so many special things happen here over the years between weddings and funerals and baby showers,” Gingerich told Denverite. “So many people said they’ve met here and then got married or had kids. If you’ve seen that beer garden, there is a lot of love in it.”
Still, Gingerich understands business. She sees both sides.
“We’re really not wanting to be on either side of a potential war possibly brewing,” Gingerich said. “I think that people are really passionate about development, especially on Tennyson, but in Denver in general. We have a really good relationship with our landlords, and we don’t want to burn any bridges because a lot could still happen in the future, and if there ever was an opportunity for us to stay longer, we would absolutely want it.”
Berkeley Park Partners, which also owns the old house next door to Local 46 that houses Berkeley Park Running Company, is concerned with keeping their tenants afloat while COVID-19 keeps them closed, Heller said. The landlords are providing rent relief while Gingerich prepares for an eventual reopening after Denver lifts its restrictions on bars.