Rhinoceropolis was already grappling with one threat: development

Long before an inspection pushed artists out of Denver’s oldest and dearest DIY spot, it was threatened by encroaching development.

DIY art spaces Rhinoceropolis and GLOB, in the warehouse on the right, are just a few doors down from the development of the Catalyst Health Tech Innovation campus. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
DIY art spaces Rhinoceropolis and GLOB, in the warehouse on the right, are just a few doors down from the development of the Catalyst Health Tech Innovation campus. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
DIY art spaces Rhinoceropolis and GLOB, in the warehouse on the right, are just a few doors down from the development of the Catalyst Health Tech Innovation campus. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The surprise inspections that lead to evictions at the River North DIY art spaces Rhinoceropolis and GLOB yesterday came as a shock to the music community that has long dealt with threats to their homes and venues.

After 11 years at 3553 and 3551 Brighton Boulevard, the artists living there were told to leave immediately.

This latest blow, which comes just days after a fire in an Oakland DIY space killed 36 and after officials then moved to shut down another DIY space in Baltimore, puts into question the future of sister venues that were all but stamped with an expiration date last summer.

In August 2015, the entire block at 35th Street and Brighton Boulevard was purchased by developers. The 1.5-acre area that includes Rhino and GLOB is already being cleared to make way for Catalyst Health-Teach Innovation.

A rendering of the Catalyst Health Tech Innovation building. (Courtesy of Catalyst HTI)
A rendering of the Catalyst Health Tech Innovation building. (Courtesy of Catalyst HTI)

As I reported for the Denver Post at the time, the campus will be a partnership between developer Koelbel and Co., entrepreneur Mike Biselli and Larry Burgess, whose family owns the block.

Rhino and GLOB lease holder John Gross told me then, “I’m planning to continue Rhinoceropolis until the very end, as long as possible.”

He also said that Burgess, who is his landlord, told him that the two art spaces are on land that won’t be used until Phase Two of the project.

As Chloe Aiello reported for Denverite, Phase One of the project began Oct. 20 and is expected to open in the first quarter of 2018.

The good news, at least for now, is that renderings of the future Catalyst HTI campus indicate that the lots where Rhino and GLOB sit will be spared for some time.

In this rendering of the Catalyst HTI campus, you can see the buildings housing Rhino and GLOB on the far right, just steps away from the planned Catalyst building.

Screen shot of the Denver zoning map showing the 3500 block of Brighton Boulevard.
Screen shot of the Denver zoning map showing the 3500 block of Brighton Boulevard.

Right now, Denver’s zoning map indicates that the 3500 block of Brighton Boulevard is zoned for mixed use on the southwest side — the Catalyst side — and industrial mixed use on the northwest side — the Rhino and GLOB side.

But zoning can be changed, and the DIY corner of the block is still part of the Catalyst HTI project, according to the city’s site development plans.

We’ve reached out to Dean Koelbel, a partner on the project and co-owner of the campus, to try to clarify plans for the rest of the block.

The Catalyst HTI campus is right in the heart of an area the city is already working to change. It broke ground in October on a $29 million project to overhaul Brighton Boulevard, adding bike lanes and improved sidewalks. The first phase of construction spans 29th Street to 44th Street.

For the time being, at least, it appears Rhino and GLOB are safe from development. But it’s coming. It’s already moving in next door.

A crane looms over Brighton Boulevard, across the street from Rhinoceropolis and GLOB. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
A crane looms over Brighton Boulevard, across the street from Rhinoceropolis and GLOB. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Ashley Dean

Author: Ashley Dean

Ashley Dean covers dining and nightlife, and other odds and ends. She previously covered music and did some copy editing for the Denver Post, the Colorado Daily and the Daily Camera. She's from New York, likes her bourbon straight and has strong opinions about Kanye West. She can be reached at adean@denverite.com, 303-502-2804 or @AshleyDean.