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The three-day festival will bring a mix of international musicians to three stages set up around the quiet golf park. Colorado artists, chefs and bands will be showcased at the event.
Headliners, which organizers say will reflect the diversity of Colorado’s taste in music, will be announced on March 20.
Grandoozy has been in the works for four years, and is a collaboration between Superfly, Visit Denver and David Ehrlich of the Denver Theater District, who will serve as an executive producer of the event.
Superfly is best known for founding Bonnaroo outside Nashville and Outside Lands in San Francisco. The company has offices in New York City, San Francisco and Chicago, and members of the team from across the United States are excited to converge in Denver, says Superfly co-founder Rick Farman, who spent much of the past four years scouting out a location with Ehrlich, ultimately landing on the Overland Park Golf Course. The company describes the south Denver neighborhood, adjacent to the Platte River, as "Denver’s backyard."
Superfly had no shortage of critics last year, who raised concerns that its music festival would be an unsavory private use of public land, a noise nuisance, and a magnet for crime, drugs and traffic snarls. Some golfers were hesitant to give up the use of their public course during prime golf season, and others looked forward to promises from Superfly that the company would leave the course in better shape than it was found.
Proponents argued the festival would bring much needed energy to the sleepy neighborhood and give people something to do. They looked forward to seeing Overland Park Golf Course become a cultural hub and hoped the project would bring resources to the neighborhood. In the wake of the festival being approved by City Council, plans for a pedestrian bridge over Santa Fe Drive at Jewell are moving forward.
Opponents and supporters of the festival alike pointed to nearby Levitt Pavilion, the nonprofit amphitheater which opened last year, as an example of the impact a project like Grandoozy would have on the community. Some say Levitt made too much noise and others have relished the dozens of free shows the venue offers the community.
Levitt, which participated in community dialogue about the Superfly festival, has partnered with the company on the festival, says Levitt’s executive director Chris Zacher.
Richard Scharf, the CEO and president of Visit Denver, is eager to see the festival arrive, in part because it will bring in vacationers who will spend tax dollars in Denver and then leave – at least, most of them will.
"Visitors pay taxes we don’t have to pay," says Scharf, who positions himself as an advocate for smart growth and sees Grandoozy as just one more reason to boost Denver as a world-class tourist destination.
Rick Farman, Richard Scharf and Jonathan Mayers announce details about Superfly’s Denver music festival: Grandoozy.
"We’re innovative. We’re an innovative city," he says. "We’re a city made up of millennials. Probably none of us are from around here, but we came here and we just couldn’t leave."
While Farman says Superfly has no immediate plans to set up offices in Denver, he notes it isn’t a stretch to imagine his company’s employees would move here – either on their own or as part of a Superfly initiative; after all, many of them already vacation in Colorado.
The festival will join other major music events, including the Westword Music Showcase and the Underground Music Showcase, in bringing live music to the city.
Superfly boasts that Grandoozy reflects Colorado’s diverse cultures, and the festival’s producers forged relationships with respected arts champions like David Moke and Annie Geimer of the Denver Theater District early on in the exploratory process.
Farman says that Grandoozy is one of Superfly’s largest projects, and that the "psychographic" and cultural makeup of Denver reflect his company’s.
Scharf notes Superfly plans to run the festival for at least five years, and it’s in the company’s best interest for things to go smoothly: "But the proof is in the pudding."
Riverlife Village site
More than 10 years after a former Denver man was charged with securities fraud for his role in an $8.3 million real estate scam, he continues to make monthly restitution payments to his victims.
But Jason Sharkey’s criminal background hasn’t stopped him from becoming a key player in an $80 million to $100 million riverfront redevelopment project in Wausau, Wis., that’s funded in part by city money, according to records from the U.S. and Canada.
The first phase of Riverlife Village is now under construction on 16 acres of city-owned land in Wausau, a community of about 39,000 people 100 miles west of Green Bay, with Sharkey running the project’s financing through a company he founded called Quantum Ventures.
“That’s insane. That’s just crazy, that’s what that is,” said Broomfield resident Thomas Severino Jr., one of many investors lured into the Colorado scam by Sharkey. He and his wife invested $40,000 with Sharkey, who still sends them about $15 per month in restitution.
Neither Wausau Mayor Robert Mielke nor economic development director Christian Schock, returned calls about Sharkey’s background.
Sharkey, 41, acknowledges his criminal case in Colorado, but explains that as the regional vice president of a Canadian real estate venture, he too, was a victim of the elaborate fraud. He said he and his wife lost $134,000 in the deal.
“I never knowingly lied about the fund,” Sharkey said in a written reply to a series of questions from The Denver Post. “I fully cooperated with the state of Colorado in this matter as I did not knowingly take investors’ money for a fraudulent fund or intentionally try to steal money from the company or investors.”
Shereen Siewert, publisher of the Wausau Pilot & Review, has written a series of articles exposing the questionable credentials of key developers involved in the Riverlife Village project, which Sharkey’s company became the development lead for in January.
Siewert — with help from The Denver Post — also uncovered the criminal case in which Sharkey was ordered to repay $692,642 to victims.
Jefferson County criminal records and U.S. District Court documents indicate Sharkey courted Colorado investors on the golf course, promising high yields on their money.
At the time Sharkey was serving as vice president of Klytie’s Global Real Estate Fund based in Calgary, Alberta, Severino said. Klytie’s owners hired Sharkey with salary of $52,000 annually in 2005.
When Severino requested an audit of Klytie’s financials, a Christopher L. Klaus of KPMD Financial Services of Toronto emailed a financial report. But Severino later learned Klaus was fictitious and the company didn’t exist.
On Aug. 25, 2005, Sharkey organized a golf tournament at Heritage Eagle Bend Golf Course in Aurora to raise money for Gilda’s Club Worldwide, a nonprofit organization supporting cancer patients that was founded in honor of actress and comedian Gilda Radner, who died of cancer in 1989. During the tournament, Sharkey guaranteed investors a 10 percent return on whatever sums they put into Klytie’s, court records show.
Sharkey’s boss, Hidai Friedman, told investors his wealthy uncle in Israel directed the company. Friedman also told investors the company owned properties in Panama, the Cayman Islands and Israel. All the company needed, Sharkey told investors, was a bank and the company was negotiating to buy one in Phoenix, the lawsuit says.
Sharkey met investors in the Cayman Islands, where he showed them beach-front housing developments he claimed were Klytie’s projects, court records show. A company brochure boasted the company had 14 parcels around the world worth $52 million, and it also claimed to build low-cost housing in developing nations.
But investors grew frustrated when Klytie’s failed to provide them with basic tax forms and other information.
When Sharkey learned in late 2006 that the company was under investigation in Colorado, he resigned, he said in the email to The Denver Post.
“Being an investor myself, I was just as surprised as anyone when the full extent of the Friedmans’ fraud was revealed,” he wrote.
Thomas Ritchie, a securities investigator for the Alberta Securities Commission, found that two $11 million properties Klytie’s claimed to own in Vancouver, British Columbia, didn’t exist. A home the company claimed was worth $3.8 million was actually valued at $150,000. And the company didn’t own a large shopping mall it claimed.
The Alberta Securities Commission fined the company $220,000 and forbid it from selling securities in Alberta for 25 years, according to a June 5, 2007, settlement agreement.
Sharkey said he didn’t do any work in Canada for the company.
Jefferson County prosecutors charged Sharkey with five counts of securities fraud and one count of theft in 2007. He received a two-year deferred sentence in April 2008. Two owners of Klytie’s, including Friedman, also were indicted.
Sharkey was allowed to move to Wisconsin midway through his deferred sentence. Charges were dismissed when his term was completed.
Despite the fact he continues to receive restitution payments, Severino is critical of Wausau officials who approved Sharkey’s involvement in their project.
“They are doing an injustice to their city,” he said Friday. “I would demand that they do a background check on everyone involved.”
But Sharkey said the experience of being duped himself taught him a valuable lesson of needing to do “one’s own due diligence.”
“This unfortunate legal matter from more than 10 years ago has been resolved and will have no impact on the Riverlife project,” Sharkey wrote.
“All potential investors and lenders are aware of what occurred and the position I was placed in as an unwitting investor and employee of Klytie’s.”
DENVER — It promised ample snow and sunny weather on a normally bare, rocky peak easily accessible by "super highway," thousands more hotel rooms than existed and a cross-country ski course that looked good on paper but would have cut through some people’s backyards.
The airbrushed pitch worked, but after Denver won a bid to host the 1976 Winter Olympics, its plan unraveled amid questions about the environmental impact, ballooning costs and logistics of hosting such a big event in a quickly growing state.
Now, over four decades after Denver became the only city to withdraw as an Olympic host after winning a bid, it is exploring whether to try again after many cities have decided it’s just not worth it.
The city is again growing, with low unemployment and a booming economy, and this time has a bigger airport, light rail, more hotels, seven professional sports teams and multiple stadiums. But the highway touted in ’76 – Interstate 70, which connects Denver to the Rockies – has essentially remained the same. As the population of outdoor-loving Colorado has grown, the largely four-lane route is often gridlocked on weekends.
Meanwhile, the city also is trying to lure Amazon to open its second headquarters in the metro area, which already has many worried about growth, tax breaks and the rising cost of living.
The Olympic exploratory committee convened by Mayor Michael Hancock – which includes leaders of companies like Vail Resorts and Liberty Global, along with former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and ex-Denver Nugget Chauncey Billups – is mulling a privately funded games, estimated to cost $2 billion, without any mega projects. Organizers say the strategy could even leave the state with a surplus to fund I-70 improvements or other work.
Denver already faces stiff competition from Salt Lake City, which became the first U.S. city to announce its plans to bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics this month. Salt Lake said it could host without losing money thanks to existing venues and its expertise in putting on the 2002 Olympics. Reno, Nevada, is also considering a bid.
While some worry the Olympics will distract Denver from urgent problems like affordable housing and transportation, committee members stress that the games won’t take money from those priorities and could potentially net $100 million to $200 million thanks to proceeds from ticket sales, sponsorships and merchandise.
The panel had been in a rush to decide in March whether to pursue the 2026 or 2030 games but is now focused on 2030. The U.S. Olympic Committee announced in Pyeongchang that it will not pursue a 2026 bid unless the International Olympic Committee decides to award bids for both years at once. Denver’s group now plans to make a recommendation to the mayor and governor by late April or early May, although chairman Rob Cohen said the exploratory committee would readjust its timeline if a dual bid becomes a possibility.
The International Olympic Committee is encouraging fewer billion-dollar projects and more facilities already in place after the lavish 2014 Olympics in Sochi. The three venues that would need to be built for a Denver-based Olympics – for Nordic skiing, ski jumping, bobsledding, luge and skeleton – would be temporary structures, said Cohen, CEO of insurance and wealth management company IMA Financial Group. The events could be spread around the state or concentrated along the Front Range.
The exploratory committee has been criticized for its lack of grassroots representation for meeting behind closed doors, but it recently invited community activists to serve on advisory groups and held online meetings with the public.
Architect Michael Wenham pondered the prospect of a Denver Olympics recently while at a park near downtown, noting it could be interesting to come up with environmentally friendly ways to host the Olympics. But he reconsidered when he thought about I-70 traffic. He can’t remember the last time he headed to the mountains to snowboard on a weekend because of its traffic jams.
"High-speed buses with their own lane. That is the only way they’re going to be able to do it," Wenham said.
Cohen said buses would be one possibility for moving people to the mountains quickly during the Olympics, as would giving truckers incentives to bypass I-70. He said some of the surplus could be used to improve the interstate or on another project that would benefit the state long-term, and noted the federal government helped pay to fix highways for Salt Lake City’s 2002 Games.
In the years since Denver said no thanks, more cities have become wary of pursuing the Olympics in the face of public opposition and financial concerns.
Innsbruck, Austria, which hosted the 1976 Games after Denver backed out, decided against pursuing a 2026 bid when its promise to organize low-cost and sustainable games failed to convince residents. Other cities that have considered but dropped Olympic aspirations in recent years include St. Moritz and Davos, Switzerland, Krakow, Poland and Oslo, Norway.
Former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, whose political career took off after he helped fight the 1976 Olympics, is trying to keep an open mind about Denver’s latest go-around. The committee studying the issue includes savvy people with a track record of successful economic development projects, he said.
But even if Denver could pull it off, he’s not sure what’s in it for the city.
Lamm thinks officials tend to get seduced by the Olympics’ glamour when they could spend their attention on the mundane things that support the economy, such as finding money for education and roads. That takes more campaigning and alliance-making in Colorado because of its strict tax and spending limits, which require voters to approve any tax hikes.
"There’s many opportunities to make this a better state, and I don’t see how the Olympics fit into that," he said.
DENVER — Landlords who charge for rental screening applications would be restricted on just how much they can charge under a bill the Colorado House is to debate this week.
The measure, HB1127, which has no support from House Republicans so far, is aimed at making it less expensive for low-income people to get affordable housing, said its main sponsor, Rep. Dominique Jackson, D-Denver.
"The fact of the matter is, this is pretty common-sense stuff," Jackson said. "Everybody knows that we’ve got a massive affordable housing problem. If you can’t even get into a piece of property because you’re paying so much for application screening fees, the bill limits the amount that a landlord can charge to screen a prospective tenant to their actual cost of those screenings."
Jackson said many people can’t afford to spend money on multiple screenings at different apartments they are considering renting, and then come up with first- and last-month’s rent along with a security deposit.
Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Denver, who also is sponsoring the bill with Jackson, said he’s hopeful changes to this year’s bill will win the approval from the Colorado Apartment Association with some changes, which haven’t been worked out yet.
The duo tried to get a similar bill through last year’s Legislature, clearing the Democratic-controlled House on a party-line vote only to see it killed in a committee in the Republican-dominated Senate.
While affordable housing advocacy groups are supporting the bill, organizations like the Rocky Mountain Home Association and the Colorado Association of Realtors oppose it.
"We could be able to get the Apartment Association to neutral, so there’s a real chance that we can lock down some common ground and have some pretty strong bipartisan support," Kennedy said.
The measure cleared the House Finance Committee last week on a partisan 7-6 vote.
In a related matter, a measure introduced by Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton, that would require landlords to provide tenants with a copy of their rental agreements and a receipt for rents paid, edged out of the Colorado Senate on Friday.
Although that measure, SB10, was on the Senate’s "consent calendar," meaning it won unanimous support in committee and is generally considered non-controversial, 10 Republicans voted against it Friday, including Sen. Randy Baumgardner, whose district includes Garfield County.
Sen. Ray Scott was absent for the day and did not vote because he was attending a GOP luncheon with the Mesa County Republican Party.
Owners of a Colorado business seeking to be among the nation’s first legal marijuana clubs made an initial public pitch to city officials on Friday, laying out their plans to prevent underage and otherwise illegal use at the site.
The business owners reiterated their plan to charge an entry fee to the space where customers can vape or eat marijuana products.
The space is already open but is only selling coffee and pre-packaged snacks for now.
City officials put specific focus on how the business will train employees to prevent anyone underage from entering, keep customers from distributing marijuana and responding if someone has over-consumed.
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No opponents of the business spoke during the two-hour hearing and a representative for the Denver neighborhood where the business is located asked the city for approval.
"I have visited the facility, I’ve had numerous conversations with the owners and we’re really pleased to have them in the community," said Aubrey Lavizzo, a member of the La Alma Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association.
One of the owners runs a marijuana store next to the coffee shop. The co-owner also is a manager at that store. Neighbors are familiar with them and have no complaints about their marijuana retail business, Lavizzo said.
Rita Tsalyuk, one of the Coffee Joint’s co-owners, said they understand a license requires scrutiny.
"We want to be a good face for the community and the industry," she said. "We’re trying to make it as perfect as it can be."
A Denver attorney who oversaw Friday’s hearing will make a recommendation to the city’s top licensing regulator, who has the final say on whether to grant the license.
It’s not clear how long that process will take, but the marijuana industry in Denver and elsewhere is watching closely.
Colorado law doesn’t address pot clubs but bans public use, including outdoors. In some cities, unregulated clubs are tolerated, while others operate secretly.
Other states with legal marijuana are at a standstill for developing rules governing places to consume pot products, including Alaska, where state regulators delayed discussion of rules for retail shops until spring.
Denver voters approved the clubs in a 2016 ballot measure, but it took nine months for the city to start accepting applications. Advocates have complained that state restrictions preventing pot use at any business with a liquor license and the city’s own rules unfairly limited potential locations for the clubs.
For instance, the city required pot clubs to be twice as far from schools and anywhere else children gather as liquor stores.
The businesses cannot sell marijuana products; customers would have to bring their own.
Denver has received two formal applications but city officials expect more. The second application, which was submitted this week, proposes a cannabis spa where customers can take yoga classes or receive massages with marijuana-infused lotions or oils.
The New England Patriots will represent the AFC in Super Bowl 52. How would a win by a non-divisional rival mean for the Denver Broncos offseason plans?
A Denver-based national apartment operator is battling online short-term real estate rental company Airbnb again in California.
Jan. 21–On any given day at this Denver landmark, there could be goat yoga, ice skating, beer tasting, live music and fine art.
You might even meet former Broncos quarterback and Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning.
This isn’t some all-inclusive Rocky Mountain vacation or a VIP state tour. It’s Denver International Airport — and in some ways, airports the world over — in the year 2018. Continue reading “CO: Denver International Airport is Working to Become a Destination — with Ice Skating and Goat Yoga — In and of Itself”
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