By David Sachs, Denverite | UPDATE: On Sept. 9, the Denver City Council changed the nightclub’s lease to end two years early.
City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca suggested the club, which is owned by people of color, was unfairly targeted for crimes that the Denver police could not directly connect with the club.
Owners were “strong-armed into a lease amendment without a place for them to go,” she said. The club, which paid for offsite private security, was not given enough time before getting pushed out, she said.
The vote was 12 to 1 with CdeBaca dissenting.
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Denver Wants to Boot the Onyx Nightclub Out of Its 14th Street City-owned Location, Citing Crime
By David Sachs, Denverite | At Denver’s 14th Street hub of performing arts, some people catch the symphony and some people catch a musical. Next door, some people catch table service and dancing at Onyx, a hip-hop club that the city wants to move out.
On Wednesday, Denver Arts and Venues, which rents the space at 14th Street and Arapahoe Street to Onyx, moved to terminate its contract with two years left on the lease. The agreement would end Dec. 31 If the Denver City Council approves.
“The current use in that space is incongruent with public safety and also the mission of the arts complex,” said Ginger White, executive director of Arts and Venues, during a City Council committee meeting Wednesday.
Four recent gun-related crimes inside a month at the Denver Performing Arts Complex parking garage — city-owned property — prompted concern from city officials. The arts department pinned those and other nearby violent crimes, including assaults and robberies, on the nightclub, citing the relationship between the timing of the 911 calls and the club’s 2 a.m. closing time.
District 6 Police Commander Aaron Sanchez said the police department has responded to 235 911 calls near 14th and Arapahoe since January, often because of fights. Yet police records show just 38 recorded incidents tied to Onyx’s address since 2014. (The club used to be called Epernay.) Officers recorded 36 incidents at the parking garage in that period.
“A lot of the large fights, there are not arrests, because there simply aren’t enough officers to make those arrests,” Sanchez said. “And so you’ll have a big scuffle and you’ll have a winner, a loser, or a number of winners and losers, and those people then leaving without consequences on either side.”