DRINK UP — and maybe wander with change in law for Stanley Marketplace


AURORA | Visitors at Aurora’s new Stanley Marketplace could soon be able to snag a drink at one of the facility’s many watering holes and then meander outside of specific businesses and into certain common areas.

City council members at their Jan. 23 meeting granted initial approval for the creation of the city’s first entertainment district, a move that will allow the developers behind Stanley to create common consumption areas where patrons can congregate with alcoholic beverages.

“I think it just creates another element,” said Mark Shaker, one of the facility’s co-founders. “To not have a hard line on where you can bring your drink, either inside or outside the building, is unique.”

Officially deemed the Westerly Creek Entertainment District, the area runs along Stanley’s property boundary. However, the common consumption areas will be limited to certain concourses and possibly patios at Stanley, and could be prohibited from serving as common areas at certain times or on certain days of the week in order to accommodate child-friendly activities or events, according to Shaker.

“I think of like baseball stadiums, and certain areas of the bleachers have just family-only sections,” he said at the Jan. 23 city council study session.

The exact common areas will still need to be formally approved by city staff and will have to go through a process similar to that of obtaining a liquor license, according to Trevor Vaughn, manager of the city’s tax and licensing division.

“It’s not a fait accompli, but there will be lots of signage, lots of educational pieces that we’ll be doing to help promote that,” Shaker said of the possible consumption areas.

Shaker added that the Stanley developers have been holding weekly meetings with representatives from the Aurora Police Department to address potential safety concerns and increased traffic in the area as more of the facility’s businesses come online.

“We don’t want to be reactive,” he said. “We want to be as proactive as possible.”

Arleigh Jenkins, a Stapleton resident whose daughter attends the OPENair Academy within Stanley, said she was initially hesitant about expanding the area where people would be able to imbibe, but had her trepidations assuaged after learning about the stringent parameters of the consumption areas.

“There’s going be kids around here all the time, so how are we respecting that?” said Jenkins, who works for a nearby marketing agency that caters to law firms. “This is really the only space in Stapleton where you can go to a brewery or go to the beer hall and I can see it attracting people, especially closer to like 8 (or) 9 o’clock — hopefully they ride their bikes home.”

At the study session preceding the council vote on the new entertainment district, Ward I Councilwoman Sally Mounier hinted she may try to create another entertainment district in the city’s eastern reaches to dovetail with a possible ballot measure aimed at bringing a racetrack facility to the city.

“If we are lucky enough, eventually, to get a racetrack, it would be more than a racetrack,” Mounier said. “It would be retail and commercial shops and entertainment venues and there, again, it would make perfect sense for an entertainment district.”

Currently the city is prohibited from erecting new racetracks in the city due to a stipulation in the city’s charter. Previous attempts to strip that prohibitive language from the charter have failed.

The Westerly Creek Entertainment District is tentatively slated to be heard for its second reading at the next city council meeting Feb. 6, according to Vaughn.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled Arleigh Jenkins’ first name.