DENVER (CBS4) – Longtime residents of the Denver Five Points neighborhood are calling a recent advertisement at Ink Coffee “offensive.”
Ink Coffee recently posted a sign outside their business, which read “happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014.”
The store, which is located in an area highly concentrated with new development, was not part of the original business district. Few businesses remain, that were open before 2010.
“It is pretty offensive. Gentrification isn’t really a funny or light connotation around here,” said Fatima Kiass, a longtime resident of the region. “For a lot of us, it means people are being displaced from their homes. People who are from the community are being alienated from their own block.”
One of the only businesses still open from the neighborhoods original district, is Joe’s Liquor on Larimer.
“We saw the change coming in, and it was drastic,” said Tim Choi, the son of the liquor store’s owner.
Choi’s family has owned Joe’s Liquor for more than 30 years. Choi grew up with his parents operating their store, and now helps run the business.
“(The surrounding area) used to be an industrial park area. A lot of working families,” Choi said.
In the past five years, the area has had boom in development. Highrise apartment complexes, breweries, restaurants, and coffee shops has built around the land.
Choi said this was one of the first clear examples he saw, of a business’ disconnect with the roots of their community.
“I completely disagree with how (Ink) handled it,” Choi said.
Some residents vandalized the coffee shop during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which the store was closed for. Some threw rocks through the windows, while others spray painted the building.
Both Choi, and Kiass, said they hoped the issue of gentrification, and Ink’s advertising, would start a progressive dialogue. Both said violence, though, was not the way to do that.
“Most people are willing to be forgiving, if (Ink) understands what they did,” Kiass said. “We are not going to get our point across by being destructive. If we want people to listen to us, we have to approach in a way for people to hear us out.”
Community organizers scheduled a protest for Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.
They also posted online their intent to protest outside the building at 6 a.m. on Monday, when the store reopens.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.