Demolition at 17th and Logan is permitted after all, and we learned what’s been proposed to replace the old Be on Key and Wrangler building

The bars that once stood there will be remembered for their wild history

Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple, in North Capitol Hill, is on its way to oblivion. Aug. 9, 2022.

Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple, in North Capitol Hill, is on its way to oblivion. Aug. 9, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
kyle harris

Update: On Wednesday morning, Community Planning and Development confirmed plans had been turned into the city at the address 401 East 17th Avenue and that the project was properly permitted. The stop work order, Denverite initially reported, was lifted. Original story below (updated with information gleaned from proposed plans for the site). 


On Tuesday, bulldozers smashed the graffiti-covered bar that once housed the Wrangler and Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple, at 1700 Logan Street, in North Capitol Hill. The building, which caught fire in May 2020, has been shuttered since.

According to records from the Denver Clerk and Recorder’s Office, the building is owned by Orlin Holdings, LLC.

For months, for-sale signs have hung on the side of the building and continue to, even with half the structure in smithereens.

On Tuesday, city officials investigated whether the demolition was happening according to city rules. Turns out, it was.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the demolition did not appear to be permitted. No applications for demolition or concept site plans tied to 1700 Logan Street address were listed in the Community Planning and Development database. The last permit tied to 1700 Logan Street was in 2017 for electrical work.

On Tuesday afternoon, the department sent building inspectors to the site to investigate whether the demolition was happening in accordance with the law, said Laura Swartz, a spokesperson for Community Planning and Development.

“We are issuing a stop work order for the site,” Swartz said at the time.

If there were no permits, the bulldozing would have been in violation of city rules.

On Wednesday morning, Community Planning and Development confirmed plans had been turned into the city at the address 401 East 17th Avenue. The information had been added to the city’s permitting website with a slight deviation in format.

The chief inspector and the demo company confirmed the permits were valid, Swartz said Wednesday morning. “The stop work order was already lifted.”

Here’s what’s proposed for the building.

According to the most recent concept plans submitted to Community Planning and Development, if built, the project would include six stories with 121 homes above 2,900 square feet of ground-level retail.

There would be 71 parking spaces with both ground-level and basement parking.

The city has asked the developer, Humbolt Development Properties, to resubmit its concept plans.

Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple, in North Capitol Hill, is on its way to oblivion. Aug. 9, 2022.

Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple, in North Capitol Hill, is on its way to oblivion. Aug. 9, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

This building has a colorful history.

The building once served as a laundromat. For twenty years, 1700 North Logan Street housed the gay bear bar the Wrangler, until it moved to 3090 North Downing Street in Whittier in 2016, where it closed for good in 2018. That building on Downing is now being taken over by a collective of businesses, including a restaurant, an art gallery, an herbal shop and a brewery called Society Colorado.

The Logan Street Wrangler will be remembered for its open urinals where hairy men would flirt while relieving themselves, its patio where endless woof-inspiring debauchery took place, its never-ending flow of beer, and its reputation for having a discriminatory ID policy that was used to keep out transgender people and cis women — a practice protested by the queer community.

Back then, the Wrangler was part of a strip of gay bars on 17th Avenue, including J.R.s, which turned into an Italian restaurant, Pasquini’s, that was demolished to make way for apartments that are under construction.

Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple, in North Capitol Hill, is on its way to oblivion. Aug. 9, 2022.

The Psychedelic Ripple, in North Capitol Hill, is on its way to oblivion. Aug. 9, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

After the Wrangler moved, the Logan Street bar was home to Deadhead entrepreneur Jay Bianchi’s Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple. The bar was part of his jam-band empire that included Sancho’s Broken Arrow and So Many Roads.

Bianchi’s time at 1700 Logan Street was sullied with accusations of assault. In 2018, he admitted he “did punches” with a musician, Aidan Pagnani, who accused him of attacking him after playing a show at the venue, Westword reported.

Eventually, Pagnani went on to form the Colorado Musician Union that spent months waging a campaign against Bianchi, accusing him of sexual assault, allegations the bar owner denied. Amid protests at other bars he was tied to, Bianchi said he had retired from the business — a retirement than didn’t last long.

In May 2020, the City of Denver shut down Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple over COVID-19 violations. Before it could reopen, a fire blazed through the building and Bianchi’s business shuttered.

 

Be on Key Psychedelic Ripple, in North Capitol Hill, is on its way to oblivion. Aug. 9, 2022.

The Psychedelic Ripple, in North Capitol Hill, is on its way to oblivion. Aug. 9, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Kevin J. Beaty assisted with the reporting for this story. 

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