Get a Liquor Common Consumption Area License

What is a common consumption area? 

A common consumption area is a designated area where patrons 21 years and older can drink alcohol from various liquor-licensed establishments in a common space.
A license is required to operate a common consumption area. A license can only be issued to a certified promotional association for an area within an approved entertainment district.  

An application for a common consumption area license requires information about: 

  • the promotional association (the applicant); 

  • the common consumption area; and  

  • the entertainment district (the area surrounding the common consumption area).  

Watch a video that covers the basics

To allow plenty of time, we recommend applying at least six months before you want to open your common consumption area. 

 

Prepare

Step 1.Know the Rules

Read and understand the laws, rules, and regulations that apply to common consumption areas to make sure this license is right for you.

Step 2.Form your promotional association

A common consumption area license can only be issued to a certified promotional association. Before applying, form a promotional association that meets the guidelines in state and local law.

What is a promotional association?(PDF, 895KB)

Step 3.Draft the plans for your common consumption area

The promotional association will need to create certain plans as part of the application. We recommend you work with professionals to ensure the plans meet all applicable building, zoning, public health, and fire prevention requirements. 

Planning early can help you when looking for insurance, applying for permits, and gathering community support. 

What do my plans need to include?(PDF, 201KB)

Step 4.Get liability insurance

A promotional association must maintain commercial general liability insurance with a minimum limit of $1 million combined single limit for bodily injury and property damage for each occurrence and name the City and County of Denver as an additional insured. 

Submit your current certificate of insurance when applying for your license.

Step 5.Apply for city permits

Based on the plans for the common consumption area, you might need to apply for city permits or authorizations. Examples include right of way, zoning, and fire and building permits. 

Step 6.Get evidence of community support

All applications must include evidence of community support from at least one eligible neighborhood organization.  

The community will likely want to understand the plans before providing support. 

What counts as evidence of community support?(PDF, 897KB)

Apply

Step 1.Gather all required documents. 

You’ll need: 

  • A site plan. Outline the boundaries of the proposed common consumption area in red. Label all attached liquor licensees and any businesses included in the common consumption area. 
  • A map showing the location of the common consumption area. Label the boundaries of the entertainment district and show where the common consumption area will be.  
  • If you are proposing a new entertainment district, provide a detailed area map. This map should include:
  • The boundaries outlined in red; 
  • The total acreage; and 
  • The name, address, license type, and square footage of each liquor licensed premises in the entertainment district. Do not include temporary modifications. 
  • Proof of possession of the premises. Proof of possession and evidence of permission authorizing alcohol consumption from any non-liquor licensed premises located within the common consumption area. This could be a lease, deed, or other documents showing you are allowed to occupy the space being used as the common consumption area.  
  • Proof of liability insurance. A certificate of insurance meets this requirement. 
  • Evidence of community support. This could be a letter, a good neighbor agreement, or other document indicating support or non-opposition from an eligible neighborhood organization. You can submit more than one document. The document(s) must be authorized by an officer, director, or agent of the eligible neighborhood organization(s). 
  • A complete parking and transportation plan. 
  • A complete health and sanitation plan. 
  • A complete security and admission control plan. 
  • Any required city permits or authorizations. Examples include right of way, zoning, and fire and building permits. You can submit an approved permit or a receipt for your permit application. 

Step 2.Complete your application

Fill out the Common Consumption Area Application(PDF, 304KB).

Step 3.Submit your application

Submit the complete application with all required documents. All materials must be legible. Legal documents must be properly signed and executed. 

You can submit your application via email or make an appointment to submit in person. 

The review process, public hearing, and permit review can take time. We recommend applying at least six months before you want to open your common consumption area. 

Step 4.We will send you an invoice

We will send an invoice to the email address you provide. You will owe $1,000. This includes: 

  • A one-time $250 application fee for the promotional association certification 
  • A one-time $250 application fee for the common consumption area license 
  • The annual $250 promotional association certification fee 
  • The annual $250 common consumption area license fee 
     

Step 5.Pay the required fees

You can pay your fees online, in person, or over the phone. 

  • Visa, MasterCard, and Discover Card are accepted. 
  • Pay your fees in person with cash, check, or credit card: 
  • You can make in-person payments at the Wellington Web Building, located at 201 W Colfax Ave., metered street parking is available. 
  • The payments and cashiering desk is located on the second floor. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • To pay with a check, make it payable to the Manager of Finance.  
  • Pay your fees over the phone with a credit card. 
  • Call the payments and cashiering desk at 720-865-2780. If there is no answer, leave a phone number where someone can call you back. 
  • The payments and cashiering desk is open Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Application fees are non-refundable. If your license is not approved, the certification and license fees will be refunded. 

Step 6.City application review

The application will be reviewed to make sure it is complete. This initial review usually takes about seven to 10 business days. 

The application then will be reviewed to ensure it meets the standards set out in state and local law. This review can take two to three weeks. 

Step 7.Public hearing

All common consumption area applications must undergo a public hearing.  

We will send an email when the application is set for a hearing. The notice packet will include a date and time for the hearing, any posting requirements, and information about the hearing process. 

The hearing will be scheduled at least 60 days after the date we receive a complete application. The hearing process is complete when the director of Excise and Licenses issues a final decision. 

Learn more about public hearings

Step 8.Entertainment district review 

If you are applying for a common consumption area license where there is no existing entertainment district, City Council will need to approve the new district. After your public hearing, we will submit the request to City Council and notify you of the timeline. This takes about six to eight weeks. 

If you are applying for a common consumption area license in an existing entertainment district, City Council will not need to approve your application. Instead, we will verify your location within the existing entertainment district. This takes about one week. 

Step 9.City permit review 

After the entertainment district review is completed, final permit review will ensure all permits have been approved. The length will depend on the number of permits in the application.  

Step 10.Complete your inspections

Once all permits have been approved, we will email you an inspection notice. This notice will list the agencies that must inspect your common consumption area. Schedule your inspections by calling the number(s) listed on the notice. 

Inspecting agencies will determine whether you pass or fail. You must pass all inspections before a license is issued. 

You can check your inspection status in the online Permitting and Licensing Center.   

Once all your inspections are passed, email  EXLApplications@denvergov.org. Include your business file number.  

Step 11.We will issue your license  

The license will be sent by email, or by mail upon request. 

Read the “Stay Compliant” tab about the new license. 

If you start an application and do not finish it within a year, it will be closed administratively.

Stay Compliant

Step 1.Distribute and post the license 

Provide a copy of the common consumption area license to each attached licensee.  

Each attached licensee must display the common consumption area license prominently next to their liquor license. 

Step 2.Maintain your insurance policy and report any changes 

Your promotional association must maintain commercial general liability insurance with a minimum limit of $1 million combined single limit for bodily injury and property damage for each occurrence and name the City and County of Denver as an additional insured. All policies must be kept in full force and effect for the term of the license. 

If you make changes notify the Department of Excise and Licenses within 72 hours of the change.  

The license could be suspended or revoked if you suspend, void, or cancel an insurance policy. 

Step 3.Renew the license and certification every year 

Business licenses expire annually. It is unlawful to operate a common consumption area with an expired license. Submit a common consumption area renewal application before the license expires. 

Learn more about renewing a common consumption area license.  

Step 4.Notify the city of any changes to the promotional association or common consumption area 

It is important to keep your license up to date.  

Learn more about keeping your license up to date.

Step 5.Maintain community support  

Follow any conditions of community support and any conditions that appear on the face of the license.

If you do not maintain community support from an eligible neighborhood organization(s), you could lose the license.