Boulder’s Yellow Deli might be forced out of business after its fellow property owners at 900 West Pearl voted for changes to the building’s constitution. The deli’s owners, who own a unit in the building, are awaiting a final judgement on the vote, one that hinges on one-third of a percentage point.
Twelve members of the 900 West Pearl Condominium Owners Association on May 25 voted 8-4 to amend the building’s constitution. Among the changes: the commercial space at 908, home to Yellow Deli since 2010, would no longer allow a restaurant, or any business to operate outside of normal business hours.
Yellow Deli is open 24 hours, five days a week, closing at 3 p.m. on Fridays and re-opening at noon on Sundays. Those hours often attract a crowd of homeless individuals, said Andrew Wolfe, who helps run the Yellow Deli along with other members of The Twelve Tribes religious group.
Wolfe said: “We were not aware that we could, by a 67 percent vote, be voted out of business at any time.”
Wolfe said the presence of the homeless was cited as a reason for the amendment by association members. The association itself, via a statement from the board, said “safety concerns” posed by a 24-hour operation, along with Yellow Deli’s overuse of resources like parking and communal areas and failure to pay bills on time were the motivations behind the amendment which will ultimately force Yellow Deli to close or relocate.
The members of the board — Ingrid Alongi, Paul Kirby and Gordon Gould — declined interviews. They sent a statement in response to emailed questions on behalf of the association that said concerns had been ongoing for years and that Yellow Deli failed to address the issues.
“For the past several years, concerns have been raised over the disproportionate cost, and wear and tear imposed upon the building by a restaurant operating 24 hours a day and likely encompassing most of the activity in the building, despite occupying only 5 percent of the space,” it read. “Neither the owner of the space” — a Twelve Tribes member — “nor the Yellow Deli have appeared at regular HOA meetings for years to hear or discuss these concerns.”
Wolfe admitted he had not regularly attended meetings but disputed that the restaurant had not been responsive to complaints.
“It was a complete surprise to us that there were any problems,” he said. “Over the years, we’ve heard about problems as they came up and addressed them. This is the first time that we’ve had problems come up that we haven’t been able to work through and resolve.”
Resident David Hose voted against adopting the amendment because the Yellow Deli “is an asset to the community.” He said the changing composition of the board sparked the amendment. Gould in 2015 bought two residential units (207 and 209) for $2.6 million, according to Boulder County Property Records, later becoming president of the board.
Some concern has been raised about the fairness of the vote, given that the property management firm, Boom Properties, is partially owned by Todd Walsh, who has done work for Gould on other downtown real estate deals. The property management division of Boom tallied the secret ballot. Walsh firmly rejected the notion that the property management division, which he does not directly oversee, would tamper with the process in any way, and offered to make the ballots available at the approval of the association.
“I do know and have done business in the past with members on this board; I know and have done business with lots of people in the community,” Walsh said. “Any assertions of there being a conflict of interest are false.”
Jeffrey Rich, who owns Farfel’s Farm adjacent to Yellow Deli, said the restaurant has been a good neighbor and that homeless loitering was no worse “than at any other place on the mall.”
“The Yellow Deli walks the talk. They are kind and supportive to some of the people who have the hardest time.I don’t necessarily agree with all their beliefs, but they are the kindest and most supportive neighbors we could have.”
Yellow Deli is not out yet. An attorney for the business is disputing that the association achieved the required 67 percent majority vote: the 8-4 split is 66.66 percent.
Even if the amendment stands, Yellow Deli has three years to cease operations. The association statement said the board “will take further input from membership on any next steps.”
Wolfe declined to answer questions about next steps, but said, “We are pursuing negotiations and have hope for everything to work out for all parties involved.”
“Being a community devoted to serving the creator, we feel like things are ultimately in his hands and we shouldn’t get too upset about it unless we know he’s upset.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the property management division of Boom Properties. Boom handles property management under its own name.Shay Castle: 303-473-1626, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/shayshinecastle