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VALOR loan program has helped 16 veterans

The Colorado Enterprise Fund’s VALOR loan program has surpassed the $1 million mark in loans produced since its inception seven months ago.

The VALOR program was created last year to support U.S. military veterans and Gold Star Families in Colorado. Since November, it has helped 16 veteran borrowers either start or grow their businesses in Colorado.

“Working with CEF has been a life preserver for H.C. Trucking,” says Ron Burnett, a retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant who owns the freight shipping and trucking company. “When we were informed about the VALOR loan program, we worked with CEF to renegotiate a lower interest rate and the process was seamless. This has truly been a collaborative partnership, and we’re proud to be part of the CEF family.”

The program offers loan amounts up to $500,000 for working capital, equipment, inventory, property improvements, business purchases and commercial real estate. The program offers a loan rate that is discounted 2 percent from standard CEF rates with terms of up to 10 years and interest-only periods of up to six months.

“Access to affordable capital for vets and their families continues to be a challenge, and we are proud to offer this program to support those who have supported our country by serving in the military,” CEF President and CEO Ceyl Prinster says.

Before CEF launched VALOR, the organization had provided 33 loans to vets over the course of two decades totaling $1.5 million. With the help of the VALOR program, CEF has provided nearly 50 loans to vets totaling $2.6 million. The loans have helped to create 385 jobs and allowed for the retention of nearly 125 jobs.
 

Cool class for kids: The Science of Ice Cream

The Inventing Room Dessert Shop is launching a series of “Science of Ice Cream” demonstrations just for kids.

The summer-break gatherings, designed for children between the ages of 5 and 14, are intended to bridge the gap between food and science.

“The goal is to get kids excited about science and have them explore all of the different and interesting ways to connect science with food,” says Ian Kleinman, the chef behind the eccentric, scratch-made dessert shop at 4433 W. 29th Ave. “Liquid nitrogen ice cream is the focus of the classes, but these are also about encouraging kids to ask questions like how pop rocks are created, how bubbles make their way into soda or the science behind everyone’s favorite midnight snack — the old-school Twinkie.”

Those who attend the free classes will learn about carbon dioxide and the properties of liquid nitrogen.

“We’ll have scientific discussions, followed by demonstrations that show the kids how we use both carbon dioxide and liquid nitrogen to make their favorite treats, including juices, sodas and custom-made ice cream sundaes,” Kleinman says.

The classes will be held from 11 a.m. to noon on June 6, June 13, June 20 and June 27. Space is limited to 18 kids per class. Parents can drop their children off at The Inventing Room Dessert Shop and return to pick them up or hang out outside on the patio during the class. All kids will go home with a bag of house-made cotton candy. Reservations are required and may be made by calling the shop between noon and 10 p.m. at (303) 960-6656.
 

Luckyleo dances into STEAM on the Platte

Custom ballerina garment company Luckyleo Dancewear is the latest company to sign a lease at STEAM on the Platte, a former warehouse that Urban Ventures and White Construction Group converted into office space in Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood.

Luckyleo will occupy 3,253 square feet of space on the first level of STEAM, which is a short walk to two light-rail stations at Decatur-Federal and West Auraria and has easy access to Interstate 25 and Interstate 70.

“STEAM’s central location is a huge benefit for us, allowing us to reach fantastic employees within the radius of downtown and grow our business with the central Denver community in mind,” said Heather Walker, one of the company’s co-founders. “The Platte access and bike routes are ideal for us. We are so thankful to have found our company’s new home at STEAM in this period of growth.

Luckyleo joins rideshare company Lyft, technology consulting company NIMBL and Ohlson Lavoie Collborative + Davis Wince, LTD. Architecture as tenants at STEAM on the Platte. Girls Inc. of Metro Denver operates the Bold Beans coffee shop.

“Luckyleo is the perfect fit for our mix of entrepreneurial tenants,” Urban Ventures President Susan Powers said. “We’re delighted that the owners will be able to take their company to the next level at STEAM on the Platte.”

Walker, her sister Chelsea Early, both former professional ballerinas, and their mother, Karen Saari, founded the company in 2014 on the belief that each dancer is unique and deserves dance wear that is as distinct as they are. Every garment is entirely handmade in-house, a rarity in the industry. All of their prints and products are designed by Walker and Early and are exclusive to the Luckyleo brand.

The company, which has six employees, ships their handmade garments to individual buyers in more than 40 countries via its online platform. With their move to STEAM, they are anticipating expanding their wholesale business, which has garnered interest from the Chinese, Japanese and South Korean markets. The move to STEAM will enable Luckyleo to accommodate the expansion into Asia and double its number of employees.


“The move to STEAM has been a huge boon in projecting our company’s professional image,” Saari said. “What a perfect place for a growing, thriving business to build an enterprise in central Denver. By surrounding our continued growth with like-minded tenants who work alongside each other with mutual respect and a positive approach to business, STEAM is a daily shot in the arm for our entire company.”

Urban Ventures and White Construction Group acquired the property in 2014. The site, originally settled by Russian-Jewish immigrants in the 1880s, once had 25 homes and several businesses on it. It housed the Johnson and Bremer Soap Factory and a rag-baling facility. When Urban Ventures and White Construction purchased the property, there were two illegal marijuana grows operating, and the Evil Souls motorcycle gang had taken over one of the buildings as its clubhouse.

“We’re excited to be joining the community at STEAM,” Early said. “The history and dynamic of such an amazing space fits our business perfectly and provides a happy and energetic atmosphere where our growing design company can flourish.”
 

Summer suds: Downtown's Skyline Beer Garden opens June 8

It’s a sure sign that summer is just around the corner when the Skyline Beer Garden opens at Skyline Park on the 16th Street Mall at Arapahoe Street.

Sponsored by the Downtown Denver Partnerships and the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District, the Skyline Beer Garden opens June 8. It will have nearly 40,000 square feet of outdoor space with open-air and tented seating that will feature live music every Friday and Saturday. The communal Oktoberfest-style picnic tables can collectively seat more than 350 guests.

Weekly programming also will offer a host of evening activities, including Sweat & Sim (exercise classes followed by beer), Trivia Night and a Meet the Maker series. The family friendly game area features giant Jenga, foosball, ping pong, a nine-hole miniature golf course and cornhole.

The Skyline Beer Garden features 12 different brews on tap and serves up casual fare, including locally made street tacos.

The Skyline Beer Garden is also available for private events. Reservations for parties of 20 or more are being accepted for special events and private gatherings, including office happy hours, convention after parties and gatherings, birthday celebrations and family get-togethers. To book your party, contact Kristen Becker at kirsten@citystreetinvestors.com.

The Skyline Beer Garden will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. from June 8 through mid-October, weather permitting.
 

Bohemian Foundation, Illegal Pete's partner with Colorado Creative Industries

Bohemian Foundation and Illegal Pete’s have signed on as community partners for Colorado Creative Industries’ Career Advancement Grant.

Bohemian Foundation and Illegal Pete’s will contribute funds for the upcoming Career Advancement Grant cycles with submission deadlines on June 2 and Nov. 1.

Funding for musicians and music-based businesses will be provided by Fort Collins-based Bohemian Foundation in continued support and implementation of the Colorado Music Strategy. Illegal Pete’s, a Colorado-based restaurant group and record label, will provide support to the Career Advancement Grant, which offers reimbursable, matching funds up to $2,500 to help Colorado creative entrepreneurs and artists stimulate their commercial creative businesses.

“The Colorado Music Strategy, which we developed statewide over the past several years, helps us focus on ways we can continue to amplify these results and make connections with partners interested in helping musicians advance their careers,” Colorado Creative Industries Director Margaret Hunt says.

Colorado Creative Industries is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Established to capitalize on the immense potential for the creative sector to enhance economic growth in Colorado, the organization’s mission is to promote, support and expand the creative industries to drive Colorado’s economy, increase jobs and enhance our quality of life.
 

Public input sought on affordable housing action plan

The Denver Office of Economic Development is seeking public input and comment to its proposed 2018 federal Action Plan for local housing, economic development, public service and neighborhood facilities programs that use federal funds.

Public meetings will provide an overview of Denver’s proposed framework that partners with the Denver Housing Authority to double the Affordable Housing Fund annually — from $15 million to $30 million — and generate a new funding surge of an estimated $105 million for affordable housing over the next five years.

The draft action plan document, which will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will be available for a 30-day public comment period through June 15 and denvergov.org/oed.

The 2018 Action Plan encompasses the following federal programs:Community Development Block Grant Program, HOME Investment Partnership Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program and Emergency Shelter Grant programs. The plan includes information about the overall goals and objectives for the year with a description of the available resources and proposed actions to address identified needs. All proposed activities and projects are intended to benefit the citizens of Denver who have extremely low and moderate incomes and populations that have special needs such as elderly, disabled, homeless individuals and families and people with HIV/AIDS.

The meetings will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. May 10 in the Wellington Webb Building, 201 W. Colfax, Rooms 4.F.6-4.G.2; and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. June 6 at the Montbello Recreation Center, 15555 E. 53rd Ave. in the community room.
 

CRUSH WALLS returns to RiNo

Artists who want to participate in CRUSH WALLS — the largest urban art events in Colorado — have until June 15 to get their applications in.

Artists may apply as individuals or as a group. They must be Colorado residents or partnered with a resident to participate.

CRUSH WALLS, which showcases local and international talent, brings art out of the galleries and onto the streets. Last year, artists created more than 80 public art murals throughout the River North Art District.

Rooted in the “where art is made” ethos of the RiNo Art District, the Denver festival has been both a planform for creative expression and a catalyst for collective gatherings. Each edition has increased the festival’s power, attracting actors from the global artistic community and drawing locals and visitors alike to the expanding urban art movement. The goal of CRUSH WALLS is to support and engage the community through access, engagement and education through arts and culture.

All artists who want to participate in CRUSH WALLS must submit an application to participate. Emails and phone calls will not be accepted.

The online application will be open through 5 p.m. June 15. A committee comprised of local artists and community leaders will score the applications and make recommendations to the CRUSH WALLS 2018 event producers, who will make final recommendations on artist participation and placement. The artist lineup will be announced no later than July 10.


 

Downtown Denver award winners announced

The Downtown Denver Partnership recently announced the 57th Annual Downtown Denver Awards winners recognizing transformative projects in downtown Denver that contribute to an economically health, growing and vital center city.

The honorees, selected by a jury of key business leaders convened by the Downtown Denver Partnership, are businesses, projects and initiatives that have had the most significant economic impact on the center city in 2017. The winners were showcased at an event April 17 attended by nearly 1,000 business and civic leaders with videos produced by Comcast and Westworks Studios.

The award winners were:
  • Ashley Union Station
  • Confluence Park-Shoemaker Plaza Reconstruction
  • Le Meridien and AC Hotel by Marriott Denver Downtown
  • The Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Initiative at Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • Rocky Mountain Seed Buildings
  • Union Station Block A
“Tonight’s 57th annual Downtown Denver Awards dinner is about the brave, bold risk-takers who have shaped our city,” Downtown Denver Partnership President and Chief Executive Tami Door said during the dinner. “Thank you to the winners, the business community and all who help make this city stronger.”

In addition to recognizing the winners, the partnership also honored The Brown Palace for 125 years of service and hospitality and the Community College of Denver for 50 years of service to education.
 

"Happy City" exhibit will help break down social barriers

Public art that will be installed throughout the city starting May 18 will bring together 11 artists’ perspectives that address ideas of happiness and wellness.

The project — “Happy City: Art for the People” — will provide unexpected art experiences in public spaces with the purpose of breaking down persona, emotional and social barriers. The art installation sites will be located throughout Denver and include streets, alleyways, billboards, video screens, Union Station and others. in addition to the installations, “Happy City” will offer programming such as conversations and a panel discussion to engage the community.

Produced by The Denver Theatre District, “Happy City” is under the artistic direction of Black Cube, a nonprofit experimental art museum that operates nomadically. Black Cube, which partners with artist fellows to commission popup art experiences, describes itself as an unconventional museum pursuing the most effective ways to engage audiences while supporting individual artists with critical professional guidance.

“Through the artists’ diverse lenses, the ‘Happy City’ experience will focus on creating stronger communal ties and ask important questions about what it means to be happy,” says Cortney Lane Stell, Black Cube's artistic director. “The art interventions are inquisitive in tone and offer many perspectives on the topic of happiness, from practical through playful.”

Participating artists include Colorado artists Theresa Anderson, Matt Barton, Carlos Fresquez, Kelly Monico, Zach Reini, John Roemer, Joel Swanson and Frankie Toan. Also joining the exhibit are Milton Melvin Croissant III of New York, Vince McKelvie of California and Stuart Semple of the United Kingdom.
 

More Laurel Cherry Creek condos released for sale

Kentwood Real Estate has released another phase of condominiums for sale at Laurel Cherry Creek.

The newly released collection of high-rise condos includes one of each floor plan and an 11th floor penthouse. Previews are available by appointment with Kentwood listing broker Dawn Raymond. Interested buyers can visit the sales gallery to view the finish packages, the 3D interactive model with views for each residence and interior, exterior and amenity renderings.

“Because our first phase of sales outpaced construction, the development and sales team have waited until now to come back to market, when we can present the final finishes and floor plans,” says Raymond, who specializes in luxury properties in and around Cherry Creek. “Interest has been high for Laurel Cherry Creek, and we look forward to welcoming potential buyers.”

Located at 215 St. Paul St., features for Laurel Cherry Creek include:
  • Private balcony or terrace with glass railings
  • Pella multi-panel sliding glass doors or folding glass NanaWall
  • Custom-designed, stained 8-foot walnut entry doors
  • 8-foot solid-core contemporary interior doors
  • Linear gas fireplaces
  • Up to 10-foot-8-inch ceiling heights throughout living areas
  • Looped-wool carpet in all bedrooms
  • Porcelain tile flooring in all bathrooms and laundry
  • Energy-efficient LED lighting
  • Natural gas BBQ service and hose bibs on balconies
  • Prewired with fiber-optic technology
“We have designed Laurel Cherry Creek to be the preeminent residential address in Cherry Creek,” says Paul Powers, president of Pauls Corp., which is developing the project. “Owners will enjoy upscale, maintenance-free living in one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in the United States.”

CU Denver team takes second in HUD competition

A student team from the University of Colorado-Denver College of Architecture and Planning took second place in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Affordable Housing competition.

The goal of the national competition was to advance the design and production of livable and sustainable housing for low- and moderate-income people through research and innovation. The competition asks teams to address social, economic and environmental issues in their response to a specific housing problem developed by an actual public housing agency.

The CU team, which included Stacy Ester, Joel Miller, Adam Buehler, Nora Bland and William Dolenshek, won a $10,000 prize.

The team’s project, entitled “Allied Living,” was designed to be a community grounded in safe, inclusive and connected spaces. Five guiding principles — identity, connectivity, accessibility, wellness and experience — informed the team’s design. The walkability and accessibility of the site connects larger community hubs through smaller social nodes, intentionally using everyday places to encourage interaction and place making. Sunlit spaces, community gardens and ease of access to nature support the overall wellness of the community’s residents.

Allied Living was envisioned to be a home where residents can express their own identities, branch out to experience new things and connect with empowering community partners as well as each other. Achieving the vision required proposing an inclusionary zoning provision to the existing zoning and balancing the project’s hard and soft costs with anticipated sources of funding and income.

Kid visits to DAM up 51 percent

More than 200,000 children and youth visited the Denver Art Museum in 2017 — a 51 percent increase in youth visits to the museum over the previous year.

The spike in youth visits can be attributed to a partnership between Bellco Credit Union and the DAM in support of the museum’s Free for Kids program, which launched in March 2015 with a five-year gift from museum trustee Scott Reiman. The program offers free general admission to all visitors ages 18 and younger.

Bellco became a presenting sponsor of Free for Kids in 2016, bringing additional support to the program, including enhanced learning and engagement opportunities and materials for youth visitors, as well as funding for outreach to underserved communities. The program also offers free general admission for school tours and other youth group visits, such as summer camps and community-based youth programs.

“Thanks to Bellco’s financial support, the Free for Kids program has provided thousands of kids and teens with access to the arts,” says Christoph Heinrich, the Frederick and Dan Mayer Director of the DAM. “Bellco’s commitment to ensuring that young people have the opportunity to experience the transformative power of the arts is truly inspiring. It is because of this commitment that we were proud to nominate Bellco for a 2018 Business for the Arts Award through the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts.
 

Pedestrian Shops opens in Central Platte Valley

The Pedestrian Shops has opened its third location at 15th and Platte streets in the Central Platte Valley.

The family-owned footwear retailer, which has two shops in Boulder, is hosting a grand-opening celebration through April 22. The celebration includes giveaways, gifts with purchases and special events.

“We’ve always been interested in opening a store in Denver,” says Richard Polk, Pedestrian Shops’ president and founder. “It took us over 40 years to find the perfect location.”

The Pedestrian Shops offers a selection of comfortable shoes. Popular brands include Birkenstock, Dansko, Keen, Merrell, Vionic, Chaco, Lems and Naot.

Coinciding with the grand opening is Pedestrian Shops’ annual Earth Day Shoe Drive. This Earth Day marks the 59th shoe drive — a second is held annually at Thanksgiving. Customers are asked to bring in footwear that they never wear — any kind, any brand, new or slightly used. Donors are offered a 10 percent discount on a new pair of shoes. Donated shoes are distributed to local assistance organizations. Donations will be accepted at all three pedestrian Shops through April 29.

The new Denver store is located at 2368 Platte St. In Boulder, the stores are located on the Pearl Street Mall and in the Village Shopping Center near McGuckin Hardware.

Koelbel develops landmark hospital into townhomes

Koelbel Urban Homes has broken ground on Sloansedge Southshore Townhomes, a 27-unit residential project on the former St. Anthony Hospital site at Sloan’s Lake.

“Sloansedge is exactly what Denver’s home seeker has been waiting and asking for,” says Peter Benson, senior vice president for Koelbel Urban Homes. “It’s ideally located in one of Denver’s desirable mixed-use areas but is still priced reasonably for all stages of home buyer.”

Located near the Highland and Edgewater neighborhoods, Sloansedge is just blocks from light rail. It’s directly across the street from the 284-acre Sloan’s Lake Park, Denver’s largest recreational body of water with more than three miles of trails, a marina, sports fields, tennis courts and a new playground. Sloan’s Lake offers sailing and kayaking from the marina and is a short walk or bike ride to cafes, breweries, restaurants and groceries.

The two- and three-bedroom townhomes range in size from 1,335 square feet to 2,600 square feet. Prices start in the mid $500,000s. Each of the five floor plans has large windows and outdoor entertainment spaces, some with views of the city, lake or mountains. All incorporate energy-efficient features and high-quality finishes such as quartz countertops and pre-finished hardwood throughout the main living level.

The sales center is now open at 4052 W. 17th Ave.

Most residents think city is not doing enough to battle homelessness, according to survey

A citywide survey confirmed what the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has been saying for years: Homelessness and affordable housing are serious concerns and realities for Denver residents.

Key findings of the survey, which collected live telephone responses from 404 likely 2018 voters, include:
  • Homelessness ranked as the third-most-critical issue for the mayor and City Council to address, following affordable housing and education.
  • 96 percent of those surveyed said homelessness is a “serious problem” in Denver.
  • 66 percent said “too little” action is being taken by the mayor and City Council to make housing more affordable and address homelessness.
Of those surveyed, 68 percent own their homes, and 57 percent said they had experienced homelessness themselves or had a family member of friend who experienced homelessness.

“This data confirms what we already know and have experienced for the past 32 years: The city must prioritize making substantial investments in homelessness services and affordable housing,” says Cathy Alderman, vice president of communications and public policy at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. “More and more people are being marginalized and left behind by Denver’s economic growth, and it is imperative that our elected officials implement immediate strategies to reduce homelessness and provide better access to affordable housing.

The survey was sponsored by All in Denver, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Del Norte Community Development Corp., Denver Foundation, Gates Family Foundation, Gorman & Co., Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver and the Urban Land Conservancy.
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