Businesses along stretch of Colfax Avenue in Denver hire safety manager

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DENVER -- Playboy Magazine once called Colfax Avenue "the longest, wickedest street in America." Now, business owners on this main street are getting help to better thrive on part of the 26-mile road.

The businesses along a 22-block stretch of Colfax have hired a safety manager.

That man, who has yet to be identified, will focus on reducing crime, which should improve safety for businesses and their customers.

At Billy's Gourmet Hot Dogs, there's plenty good to eat. But outside, there's plenty that can turn your stomach.

"Constant ambulances and police cars in front of our store and lining the street for detox. Other crimes, such as a broken window, vandalism," Billy’s employee Eileen Howell said about the constant problems seen outside the restaurant.

"I've seen people lying in the bushes, people are stepping over them. And it will take a while before someone phones an ambulance,"  said Austin Redenius, who also works at Billy’s.

But now, the Upper Colfax Business Improvement District is fighting back against crime by hiring a safety manager who will work closely with police.

"It would be nice to have someone out looking for that kind of stuff,” Redenius said.

Their focus is a 10-block area from Grant to Downing streets. Victims reported 102 crimes there last year. The largest were drug and alcohol violations with 42 cases, followed by larceny (11) and public disorder (seven).

"I don't think you feel unsafe here, necessarily. Violent crime is not the issue. We’re more worried someone breaking into car," Redenius said.

For Michael Marlow at Capital Cigar, broken windows are the biggest problems. But regardless of a new safety manager, he still thinks Colfax isn't half bad.

"I'm running a business and you want to make money and you want people to come down, but for every person I get that does not like the Colfax atmosphere, there are people that do. And they appreciate it,” Marlow said.

And each business does like that the new position could help their bottom lines, with someone watching their customers’ backs.

"We'd definitely get a lot more business in. You don't have that lingering thought am I going to get robbed? What's going to happen?" Redenius said.

The safety manager starts next week. The Upper Colfax Business Improvement District would not identify who he is.