DENVER — A growing list of downtown Denver businesses say their sales are in a downward spiral because of a growing line of homeless encampments surrounding them on almost all sides now.
Two weeks after Denver7 exposed the issues with growing encampments at Broadway and California Street, business owners say the issue continues to scare away customers and potential employees.
“They’re scared,” said Danny Newman, owner of Mercury Café at the corner of 22nd and California streets. “They’re uncomfortable. It’s hard to get people motivated to walk through that.”
“There is no direct way to park and get to our entrance without walking through a homeless encampment right now,” said Scott Coors, owner of Triangle Bar on Broadway.
Business owners here say attacks are also becoming more frequent.
Denver7 obtained video of one incident caught on camera as a man tried to steal a woman’s bag, dragging her violently on the sidewalk near Broadway and 21st as she held on for dear life. In the video, a man then comes to the woman’s defense and is able to defuse the situation and get the woman her bag back.
“It’s everywhere,” said Mark Berzins, owner of British Bulldog. “We had another assault in front of our bar where a passer-by was hit with a baseball bat just this past weekend.”
Downtown Denver businesses report 40% dip in sales as encampments engulf block
Berzins says City Councilman Darrell Watson did respond after Denver7’s initial report two weeks ago.
“His office reached out shortly after you ran your last story and he met with us right away,” Berzins said. “He came down personally. He actually arrived solo, so he got to experience the deep discomfort firsthand.”
But at this point, the toll is mounting. Newman says he’s paying off-duty officers $90 an hour at Mercury Café.
“Months at a time where we were paying the officers themselves more than we were bringing in revenue,” Newman said.
Coors at Triangle Bar recently surveyed his customers. More than 500 responded.
“And 74% of our respondents said they are coming less frequently or much less frequently than last year,” Coors said. “And of all those, 62% cited the homeless encampments and safety concerns getting to and from the bar as a primary reason.”
Those respondents also cited parking as a concern.
“It has just fallen off a cliff and gotten to a point where I don’t know what these poor businesses are going to do and how they’re going to survive out here,” said Adam Herbert who has managed parking lots for LAZ Parking for the past 10 years in downtown. “I’ve never seen things this bad.”
Herbert manages the parking lot on the same block and behind Triangle Bar, Cheese Meat Board charcuterie shop, and the British Bulldog. He was injured trying to move boulders placed on the sidewalks by someone else to keep the encampments out.
“I ended up getting my finger caught between the boulders and broke it,” Herbert said. “So, we’re fighting this on all ends.”
And with the city promising action within six months, these businesses say give us a break.
“We won’t last six months,” Coors said.
“Six months, no one’s going to make it six months,” Berzins said.
“It’s next to impossible at this point to run a customer-facing business in this neighborhood,” Newman said. “I never thought we would be in a situation this long. It’s getting worse, not better.”
“Anytime we’re in our own parking lot, we don’t ever feel safe,” Herbert said.
Denver7 reached out to Councilman Watson who said he is meeting with the businesses at this time and after that, he would reach back out.