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Denver to consider allowing alcohol in some public areas

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DENVER – Denver lawmakers are considering a new ordinance that would create several areas within the city where people could drink alcohol in public.

The areas would be known as “common consumption areas” and one can think of them a lot like food courts or patios.

“Bars, hotels, restaurants -- they can sell drinks and then people can go to one area and they can consume them together and so it’s kind of a social thing,” Eric Escudero, spokesman for Denver’s Office of Excise and Licenses, told FOX31.

The areas would be made up of several businesses that agree to allow consumption within their common property. However, alcoholic beverages purchased at one bar could not be consumed inside another bar.

“Multiple businesses have to partner up and they don’t all have to serve alcohol. It’s just creating an area outside of where people purchase alcohol in a limited area and people can come together and consume alcohol,” Escudero said.

Escudero says the goal would be to enhance business, give customers more attractive places to gather and to maintain safety.

“We close off streets so people aren’t going to be walking out in traffic,” he said. “It will not be Las Vegas. It will not be Bourbon Street. That is a totally different model. This is a limited expansion of where people can consume alcohol.”

Denver’s Dairy Block in LoDo, the Santa Fe Arts District and The Great Hall at Denver International Airport have already expressed interest in creating common consumption areas. It is possible more areas could apply for the permit, but Escudero says the application is strict.

“You have to demonstrate community support on your application. If there’s no community support, there’s no common consumption area coming to a neighborhood,” he said.

All applications will also be subject to a public hearing before being approved.

State lawmakers passed a law in 2011 allowing local municipalities to create entertainment districts for public consumption of alcohol. Other cities like Aurora, Glendale, Greeley and Fort Collins have already implemented them.

“We in Denver have been slow to do this but we’ve seen other cities in Colorado have success,” Escudero said. “This is something we think could be really good for Denver and especially for many businesses who’ve asked us to consider it.”

The first reading of the proposed ordinance is set for Monday, Nov. 4.

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