Denver City Council OKs Artists Living In DIY Spaces Being Brought Up To Code, With Limits

Photo: Rhinoceropolis Shutdown 2 | Warehouse Front - CJones
The front of the warehouse in Denver's RiNo district where artists gathered in adjacent spaces known as Rhinoceropolis and Glob. The building, located at 3551 Brighton Blvd., was closed by Denver fire inspectors for violations Dec. 8, 2016. Eleven people living in the building were told to vacate it.

Denver’s City Council voted Monday to allow tenants of “Do It Yourself” art spaces to continue to live in them while the buildings are brought up to code.

City officials believe the move makes Denver the first city in the country with such a measure. CPR's Corey Jones reports the Safe Occupancy Program gives owners and tenants of off-the-books spaces two-and-a-half years to apply to the program. They then get one year to work with the city to renovate their buildings to meet residential codes.

Buildings previously vacated since December 2016 and any building part of a surprise inspection due to a complaint or tip are also eligible for the program.

Two Years In The Making

For over two years, the city has been working with artists and organizations to come up with a viable solution for the out-of-code DIY venues. Two of Denver’s most popular, long-standing art spaces were closed last December. Glob and Rhinoceropolis were inspected by Denver Fire Department who found that the buildings violated numerous safety codes, including the lack of smoke detectors and too many extension cords.

On the other side, artists have continually pointed to rising and unaffordable rent in Denver as the reason for these spaces. At a July 10 City Council meeting, members of the artist community voiced their concerns with the proposed bill. The bill promises to minimize evictions by legally allowing tenants to stay in the buildings while renovations take place, but the artists say eviction is still a major threat. Many of the landlords who rent out these buildings, rent them on an “as is” basis and won’t allow any changes to the property.