Kulture Music Hall withdraws license application for IceHouse
Despite months of planning by two local music entrepreneurs, the historic IceHouse at 1801 Wynkoop Street will not become home to a new electronic music venue.
“Ultimately, we want to have a positive, collaborative relationship with our neighbors,” says Ryan Simonds, who hoped to open the Kulture Music Hall, an electronic music club, in the house’s 11,400-square-foot basement. of ice. “With so much opposition, we really haven’t seen that happen. We didn’t want to be in a situation where we keep fighting with people who don’t want us here.”
On May 2, hours before a scheduled hearing before the Denver Excise and Licensing Department on a proposed tavern liquor license with a dance cabaret, Simonds and partner Jonathan Trahan withdrew their candidacy for the Kulture Music Hall. The partners’ decision came after a flood of complaints, particularly from IceHouse residents who said an electronic music club was a terrible fit for the basement of the circa-1903 building, which once housed Littleton Creamery and the Beatrice Foods Cold Storage Warehouse. .
“Our concern has always been that the IceHouse is a historic building, and it was built long before technology and architecture allowed for soundproofing buildings. Our building has concrete columns that rise from the basement to ‘upstairs, so the vibes echo everywhere. There are things you can do to mute the sound, but you can’t do that for the vibes, and the bass causes the vibes. And that was going to be a club bass,” says Lynda Baker, a resident of Ice House Lofts, who previously served as chair of the board of directors of the building’s owners association. In addition to the approximately ninety units at Ice House Lofts, the IceHouse is also home to the Icehouse Tavern and the Rodizio Grill on the ground floor.
By posting QR codes that led directly to the Kulture Music Hall website – which stated that “the underground has returned to Denver” – Baker and other IceHouse residents were able to rally opposition from a wide range of groups. The Lower Downtown Neighborhood Association attempted to work out a good neighbor agreement between all parties; after LoDoNA was unable to find mutually agreeable terms, it notified Excise and Licenses that it formally opposed the cabaret license application. Denver City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega, an at-large representative, also sent a letter stating her objection, focusing specifically on potential safety issues that could arise from the presence of an electronic music club in the area.
She’s not opposed to music clubs, says Baker, but gender matters. “If there was a jazz club or some other type of music venue, it would be a wonderful addition to this space,” she explains. “But electronic dance music has such high bass and vibes.”
The basement of 1801 Wynkoop Street has housed other restaurants and clubs, including the speakeasy Boiler Room. It’s a “nice space” and was “the exact right size” for the club, according to Simonds. “It felt like a natural fit for us.”
But the rest of the neighborhood was not. Simonds says he has sympathy for what LoDo residents have been through in recent years because of the club and bar scene, including fatal shootings that took place early in the morning when fighting broke out clubs in the streets.
“Even now I feel like there’s a lot of demand in this area, but I think they need to recover a bit from recent events,” says Simonds. “We’re not a known quantity. We’re asking them to take us at face value. I don’t think they’re ready to do that.”
Part of the demand for a new electronic music venue was created when Beta, once the best electronic music club in Denver and a few blocks away at 1909 Blake Street, was transformed into a hip-hop club by the new owner Valentes Corleons. Now it’s completely closed.
“The reality is that most people in this scene know that Beta hasn’t been the same since it changed hands. I think a lot of people in the electronic music scene have felt the loss of what Beta was before,” says Simonds. .
Simonds and Trahan say they have their funding and equipment ready and are now looking for a new venue for their club.
“We don’t have to be in a specific part of town. The most important thing for us is to be convenient,” says Simonds. “It really depends on the space. There are so many variables in choosing the right place. We are very picky.”