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Huckleberry Roasters, Perfect Petal among list of major additions to Dairy Block

Huckleberry Roasters and The Perfect Petal are now open at Dairy Block lobby off of Wazee Street between 18th and 19th streets.

Open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Huckleberry Roasters at Dairy Block offers a variety of coffee, espresso and tea drinks, along with specialty coffee shakes and smoothies. Huckleberry also is serving an assortment of toast and waffles, including avocado toast, seasonal hummus toast and a Noosa yogurt-topped waffle with seasonal fruit and maple drizzle.

The second location of Denver’s popular Highland Square flower and gift shops, The Perfect Petal at Dairy Block, offers fresh floral arrangements, as well as potted succulents and homeware. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., The Perfect Petal carries greeting cards, jewelry, journals and trinkets. Several Colorado product lines are represented, including lotions and soaps from Formulary and Zents.

Milk Market, a food hall featuring 15 restaurants and bar concepts by Denver Chef Frank Bonanno, will open by late spring. Bonanno also will open Engine Room Pizza, which will serve pizza by the slice facing The Alley at Dairy Block.

Dairy Block will also be home to Mr. Pink’s, an underground lounge off The Alley that serves food and drinks with live music nightly, a Seven Grand whiskey bar and a retail space by the founder of the Denver Flea marketplace.

Kachina Southwestern Grill and Poka Lola Social Club already are open in Dairy Block.

Celebrate public art with selfies

Denver Arts & Venues is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Denver Public Art, a program that sets aside 1 percent of every municipal capital improvement project over $1 million for the creation of public art, by inviting people to share photos and videos of how they engage with the collection.

Denver residents and visitors can share their photos and videos through social media using the hashtag #DenverPublicArt30.

“The Denver Public Art collection is an anchor of the city’s cultural landscape,” Mayor Michael Hancock said. “This will be a celebration that encourages residents and visitors to engage with and celebrate the collection by finding and interacting with some of Denver’s iconic artworks, as well as those pieces located in their own neighborhoods.”

The social media campaign will encourage people to focus on 15 themes — two per month — and 30 favorite photographs from these posts will be displayed at the end of the year at Buell Theatre. Favorites will be selected by Denver Arts & Venues staff and Denver artists. All submissions will be highlighted on PublicArtDenver.com.

“There are some pieces in the collection that everyone recognizes,” says Denver Public Art Manager Michael Chavez. “But by identifying themes, we hope people will seek out the art hidden in plain sight.”

Monthly themes are as follows:
  •  March: Art in Cold Weather, and Women’s History and Heritage
  •  April: Animal Art, and Public Art Selfies
  •  May: Memorials and Statues, and Asian and Pacific American History and Heritage
  •  June: Summer-Time Art (Picnics and Park Fun), and Find Art in Your Neighborhood
  •  July: Denver International Airport Collection, and Light or Kinetic Art
  •  August: Urban Arts Fund, and Indoor Art
  • September: Latino and Hispanic History and Heritage
In addition to the public art funding ordinance which was created in 1988, the Denver Public Art Collection of more than 400 pieces includes several donated artworks, many of which are more than 100 years old. Denver Public Art also offers free, year-round tours in addition to other Public Art related events, and manages the Urban Arts Fund (celebrating its 10th anniversary this year).

Johnson Nathan Strohe designs City Park Golf clubhouse

Johnson Nathan Strohe has designed a view-oriented clubhouse to anchor the City Park Golf Course, which is being rebuilt.

The design’s stone, wood and glass materials will help to integrate the clubhouse into the new golf course. Its curvilinear form will allow for public functions with a panoramic facade that will capture course, city and mountain views.

Slated for completion in the spring of 2019, the 22,560-square-foot project includes an upper level for golf operations and entertainment, as well as a sunken lower level for golf cart storage. In addition to serving as an amenity space for golfers, the clubhouse is suited for events such as weddings, family reunions and other social gatherings.

The clubhouse also includes space for The First Tee of Denver golf program, which aims to educate and inspire youth academically, socially and physically through the game of golf. Adjacent new buildings will accommodate maintenance operations and a comfort station.

The project is part of a broader golf course redesign that will increase course yardage, create a driving range without netting, provide new sidewalks to improve connectivity and integrate storm water detention.

Johnson Nathan Strohe has previously designed public golf clubhouses for Indian Tree Golf Club, Riverdale Golf Club and The Greg Mastriona Golf Courses at Hyland Hills.

Historic Denver stops the wrecking ball aimed at the Elyria Building

Denver has agreed to postpone demolition of the Elyria Building at 4701 Brighton Blvd. to give Historic Denver a chance to conduct a Historic Structure Assessment.

The assessment will provide documentation of the building and determine whether it can be relocated and saved.

The city has slated the building for demolition to accommodate the expansion of Brighton Boulevard north of 47th Street for bike lanes and streetscape improvements. Formerly known as Fuller’s Drug Store and located on what was once Elyria’s Main Street, the prominent 1906 commercial building was used by neighbors to buy their groceries and host meetings, political rallies and social gatherings.

Historic Denver says that it’s possible the building could be incorporated into the National Western Complex site to provide a tangible reminder of the neighborhood’s history, as well as a human-scaled, authentic place-maker. The assessment, made possible by a grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund, is currently under way by Form + Works with assistance from Martin/Martin Engineering.

Since 2011, Historic Denver has advocated for historic preservation as part of the plans for the reimagined National Western Stock Show site. Among its successes are the recent landmark designation of the 1909 Stadium Arena, which will be rehabilitated and reused, as well as plans to protect and reuse the Stockyard Exchange Building and Stock Show Association Building.

Punch Bowl Social is on Fast Company Innovative Companies list

Punch Bowl Social has landed on Fast Company’s 2018 edition of World’s Most Innovative Companies for “modernizing the gaming center with scratch cooking and a late-night club vibe.”

Founded by entrepreneur Robert Thompson, Punch Bowl Social has forged an entirely new “eatertainment” category, pairing social gaming with a primary focus on culinary and craft beverage operations.

The millennial-focused brand disrupts the traditional restaurant dining experience and raises the bar for the industry with its high-integrity culinary program and diner-inspired menu created by the company’s culinary partner, James Beard Award-winning chef and Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson. Craft beverages, including the establishment’s signature punch program, and social activities like shuffleboard, Ping Pong, marbles bowling, and skee ball, create an interactive experiences for guests in a unique environment.

“We are honored and humbled to be selected by Fast Company as one of this year’s most innovative companies,” Thompson says. “To be recognized among the likes of Amazon and Apple is extraordinary. Our vision has always been to create a lifestyle brand, to innovate and evolve in our industry by creating a guest experience that’s communal, experiential and social.”

Punch Bowl Social currently has 11 locations across the country and plans to open six new locations this year, including Atlanta, Brooklyn, Chicago, Dallas, San Diego and the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Social Fare opens in former Second Home space

Social Fare Denver Dining & Drinks has opened in the former Second Home space in the JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek.

The new restaurant’s sunlit dining room has a 300-bottle illuminated wine wall and floor-to-ceiling retractable glass doors that open onto a year-round patio with a roaring fire pit. Social Fare’s eclectic menu starts with Social Bites that are meant to be shared, including Ancho Braised Beef Short Rib Nachos, Crispy Lobster Gnocchi, Carnitas Poutine and BBQ Rotisserie Chicken Flatbread.

Entree highlights include Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Berkshire Pork Tenderloin, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Mile High Meatloaf and Papardelles Fettuccini Bolognese with Colorado Lamb. There also are a variety of salads, including Tuscan Kale, and Grilled Scottish Salmon and PEI Mussels.

Social Fare serves a seasonal cocktail menu and a selection of Colorado craft beers. Its Social Hour specials include:
  • Whiskey & Wine Wednesday — discounted pricing on whiskey and wine starting at 4 p.m.
  • Feeling Fine Friday —  featured Social Fare cocktail starting at 4 p.m., the restaurant will donate a portion of proceeds to a local charity.
  • Brunch Booze Bar — create your own brunch cocktail with a variety of elixirs, juices and garnishes or follow the Social Fare mixology guidebook to mix up a special breakfast drink from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Social Fare hosts a special Pancake Social Brunch from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays that features a complimentary pint-sized pancake buffet for kids ages 8 and younger who will be able to create Pancake Art and enjoy supervised movies and crafts.

Social Fare is open daily starting at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends. The restaurant offers complimentary valet parking for up to three hours with dining validation.

Aria Denver is part of National Building Museum exhibit

A Denver developer’s cohousing project is featured in a National Building Museum exhibit called Making Room: Housing for a Changing America.

Located in Washington, D.C., the museum’s exhibit explores new design solutions for the nation’s evolving, 21st-century households. From tiny houses to accessory apartments, cohousing and beyond, these alternatives push past standard choices and layouts. the exhibit will run through Sept. 16.

Urban Ventures’ 28-unit Aria Cohousing Community, on the site of the former Marycrest Convent at West 52nd Avenue and Federal Boulevard, is similar to other cohousing developments in that residents have private living spaces, as well as community-based common areas that allow them to share meals and interests. The goal is to create an intergenerational and mixed-income community that is committed to sustainability, inclusivity and intellectual growth.

“We are honored to have the Aria Cohousing Community showcased in the National Building Museum as recognition of cohousing as a successful lifestyle that promotes community engagement and social cohesion at a time when there is so much isolation in our country,” says Susan Powers, president of Urban Ventures.

The post-World War II suburbanization of America was driven by the housing needs of nuclear families, the nation’s leading demographic, according to the National Building Museum. In 1950, these families represented 43 percent of households; in 1970 it was 40 percent.

Today, nuclear families account for 20 percent of America’s households, while nearly 30 percent of people are single adults living alone, a growing phenomenon across all ages and incomes, and it’s causing developers to reimagine the way they build communities.

In addition to the Aria Cohousing Community, the Making Room exhibit features housing alternatives like micro-apartments in New York City; backyard accessory cottages in Seattle; and tiny houses that are helping the formerly homeless in Austin.

Denver Tennis Park under construction

Construction has started on Denver Tennis Park at 1560 S. Franklin St. adjacent to Denver Public Schools All City Stadium complex.

The project, being built by PCL Construction, is the first publicly accessible youth-centered indoor/outdoor tennis facility in the Denver region. It will feature seven indoor courts and six outdoor courts. The project is expected to be completed in October.

The Denver Tennis Park is a new non-profit organization with a mission to foster whole child development for youth of all ages and abilities. The initiative is a collaboration of the Denver Tennis Park, the University of Denver and Denver Public Schools. The project has been funded philanthropically, and DPS has provided funds for a portion of the drainage work at the site. Fundraising efforts are under way as part of a capital campaign.

“This will be a tremendous addition to the Denver tennis community, as well as to student athletes for the Denver Public Schools and Denver University,” says Kerri Block, PCL’s project manager for the Denver Tennis Park. “PCL is looking forward to delivering an outstanding tennis complex to the people supporting this effort and everyone who plays — or wants to learn to play — a great lifelong sport.”

The project also includes regrading part of the surrounding athletic fields to divert storm runoff to a new 48,000 cubic foot underground retention system. The 279-space parking lot also will be preserved to serve sporting events, as well as the tennis park.

CHFA invests $2.36 billion in affordable housing in 2017

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority invested a record $2.36 billion in affordable housing last year.

The organization helped more than 8,000 Coloradans become homeowners and supported the development or preservation of more than 6,000 units of affordable rental housing. Both figures are at the highest levels ever for CHFA, which was created in 1973.

“CHFA is a mission-based organization, so our production growth is directly aligned to the growing needs of those we serve,” says Cris White, CHFA’s executive director and CEO. “In the last three years, CHFA’s investment in affordable housing has increased 182 percent compared to 2011 through 2013, with 2017 being our most historic year yet in terms of production. This demonstrates that demand for affordable housing options in Colorado, whether purchasing or renting, is at an all-time high.”

To help Coloradans purchase homes affordably, CHFA offers 20-year fixed-rate home loan products at competitive rates, with options for down payment assistance. In addition to grants, CHFA last year launched down payment assistance in the form of a second mortgage. It also offers Mortgage Credit Certificates, a tax credit that can save homeowners 20 percent of their mortgage interest each year.

CHFA also sponsors statewide home buyer education classes, which reached the highest level of enrollment to date in 2017 with 13,224 households served.

To support the development or preservation of affordable rental housing in Colorado, CHFA allocates federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and also offers financing to developers. Last year, CHFA awarded $53.2 million in credits to support 4,397 units of affordable rental housing that will be built or preserved by undergoing renovations.

CHFA also invested $363.3 million in multifamily financing, bringing the total number of units supported last year with either loans or tax credits to 6,217, setting a new benchmark for total units supported by CHFA in one year.

“CHFA will continue to work with our communities and housing partners in 2018 and the years ahead to help make Colorado a more affordable place to live,” White said. “Identifying ways to leverage and increase resources for both for-sale and rental housing is key, along with preserving existing affordable rental housing stock.”

Free beer for life? It'll cost you $1,000.

In an effort to raise money to bring a new Latino-influenced club to Denver, the founders of Miami Vibez are offering free beer for life to anyone donating $1,000 or more through their Kickstarter campaign.

Co-founder Rebecca Buch expects the 50 available free-beer-for-life awards will be gone in the early stages of the campaign.

“Beer isn’t just a pastime in Colorado,” Buch says. “It’s a way of life. We’re harnessing that way of life into an amazing fusion of art and entertainment.”

Miami Vibez also is offering a range of additional rewards to those who donate through the Kickstarter campaign or through the website using PayPal. From T-shirts and custom beer pints to equity ownership in the business, there is something for backers and investors of any level.

Located on Market Street in LoDo, Miami Vibez will cater to the trendy and artistic young working professionals in the area. Inspired by Miami’s Art Deco and Cuban influences, the 9,000-square-foot club will have three levels of dancing dancing and dining. The club will be equipped with sound and lighting systems that bring the best of the beach to Denver.

The club will be open from 11 to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Montbello gets new grocery store

Brothers Chris and John Leevers have obtained the financing they need for the $10.5 million redevelopment of the old Chambers Place shopping center in northeast Denver’s Montbello neighborhood.

The brothers received a $4.9 million bank loan commitment from Wells Fargo that covered about half of the total project cost. They searched for more than two years for the additional permanent financing for the property. Ultimately, Colorado Enterprise Fund filled the gap by assembling and coordinating three non-profit investors that are providing $3.5 million in a shared second mortgage: Colorado Enterprise Fund, $1 million; Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, $1.5 million and The Colorado Trust, $1 million.

The project will improve retail access to fresh and health foods, increase healthy eating and active living and encourage economic development in a formerly vacant retail center in a lower-income neighborhood.

“The community really needed this project to once again have access to healthy food,” says Ceyl Prinster, president and CEO of Colorado Enterprise Fund. “Chambers Place is an exciting model of mission-driven lenders collaborating on an impact investment resulting in improved health and economic vitality to an under-resourced community.”

The property is a shopping center that originally was anchored by a Safeway store that abandoned it more than four years ago, with other tenants departing soon after.

The Leevers, who own the Chambers Place property, are part of a fourth-generation grocery family. Their company, Leevers Supermarkets Inc., is 100percent employee owned with nearly 200 members and about 65 percent minority ownership. the company generally operates under the name Save-A-Lot, which is the anchor tenant in the redevelopment.

The Save-A-Lot will provide healthy food at affordable prices, sometimes as much as 40 percent lower than mainline grocery stores. The entire project is expected to create more than 80 jobs. Other tenants will include a Planet Fitness and a DaVita clinic. The center also has a well-established high-quality child care center, Early Success Academy, which is owned by long-time Colorado Enterprise Fund customer Diana Gaddison and serves many families in the area.

“The project model of a grocery store that creates quality jobs and has a wide variety of fresh food optoins at affordable prices, combine with the overall health, fitness and family orientation of the tenant mix, is the gold standard of impact we want to see in a project like this.”

Improvements to JCC completed

After spending a year under construction, improvements to the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center are complete.

“We have been working hard over the last 12 months to update our main campus and some of our other facilities, including Ranch Camp and the Tennis Center, in a variety of areas that needed some attention,” says Lara Knuettel, CEO of the JCC Denver. “We are appreciative of our members and the community who has been patient with us as we made these much-needed updates. These renovations help ensure that our buildings are safe for the community and provide a better experience for members and their guests.”

The updates include:
  • Creating a new Early Childhood Center wing with five new classrooms and updating the existing wing with new paint, fixtures and lighting, as well as new landscaping on an existing playground.
  • Remodeling several areas of the Fitness & Wellness Center, including renovating the men’s and women’s locker rooms, creating a new childcare drop-off center with access to an outdoor space, adding massage rooms, purchasing new cardio equipment, creating a new group cycling room and updating the HVAC system and ventilation.
  • Opening up the lobby, including removing pillars, adding sliding doors to the entrance, enhancing security, adding energy-efficient lighting and new artwork.
  • Redoing the parking lots to add more parking spaces while making them larger.
  • Updating the exterior of the building including painting and adding new signage and landscaping.
  • Adding new artwork, paint and carpet in different areas of the building.
  • Adding new back drops, ceiling and LED lighting at the Tennis Center.
  • Updating the JCC”s Ranch Camp in Elbert by adding to new turf activity fields, updating the dining hall and adding new landscaping.

Side Stories exhibit debuts on RiNo buildings

Coming soon to a building near you: Side Stories // RiNo, a large-format outdoor film installation on the exterior of River North Art District Buildings from Feb. 21-March 2.

The immersive event will project digital works from 10 Colorado artists onto outdoor walls in east RiNo, creating a walkable art experience through the neighborhood. The Side Stories website will provide an augmented realty, allowing visitors to follow an interactive map and audio tour of the event, complete with historical RiNo highlights and block-by-block suggestions about where to stop for a warm drink and a bite to eat or to shop along the way. A printed version of the installation also will be available.

Each participating artist was matched with an exterior wall and received a $5,000 grant to create a site-specific, three- to five-minute film loop inspired by RiNo’s historic neighborhoods. Film genres include live action, documentary, historical, motion graphics, animation and experimental.

“Side Stories supports local artists, enlivens a neighborhood and small businesses during winter evenings and creates an experience to encounter art while exploring our city," says Fiona Arnold, president of Mainspring Developers, who had the initial idea for Side Stories. “Our goal is to combine all three elements together in a new way that we hope will be interesting, inspring and just plain fun.”

Side Stores // RiNo will launch as a partnership between Mainspring Developers; Mary Lester/Martin Family Foundation; RiNo Art District; the Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media; and the Denver Film Society.

The installation will be located through the area between Broadway to 36th Street and Blake Street to Larimer Street. Visitors are encouraged to bring their smartphones and earphones.

Civitas to lead design for 5280 Loop

The Downtown Denver Partnership has selected urban design and landscape architecture firm Civitas to lead the design effort for the 5280 Loop, a project that will transform how the public right of way is used in downtown Denver.

The 5280 Loop will link neighborhoods and connect people by bringing underused streets into the downtown experience and uniting urban life with Colorado’s outdoor culture.

Denver-based Civitas’ outcome-based approach also attracted nationally known public health expert and HealthxDesign founder Rupal Sanghvi to join the team.

“Given the scale of what’s happening economically in Denver and the openness of the city to exploring how to achieve healthier outcomes, the 5280 Loop has the potential for impacting a population of some magnitude,” says Sanghvi, who was intrigued by the project’s prospects of serving as a model for “thinking more upstream” in promoting health through the physical shape of how we live, work and play.

The partnership and the project team are asking the community to help reimagine just over five miles of center city streets into a uniquely Denver amenity that prioritizes people, culture, nature and health. The 5280 Loop will promote active modes of transportation and connect many vibrant and diverse neighborhoods and civic destinations through the great urban outdoors. A conceptual design plan will be completed by September 2018.

“Cities around the world are rethinking the traditional definition of a street to go beyond just moving vehicles,” says John Desmond, the partnership’s executive vice president for urban environment. “The 5280 Loop will be Denver’s answer on how to transform a network of our streets into iconic shared spaces that will continue to move people and connect neighborhoods. At the same time, they’ll promote community and celebrate the urban experience in an authentically Denver way.”

For more on the project click here.

RiNo flips switch on art installation at underpass

The RiNo Art District has flipped the switch on a creative lighting and mural installation at the 38th Street Underpass between Blake and Wazee streets.

The installation includes an immersive light environment designed and created by Knomad Colab, as well as a new mural for the southern wall designed by Jason Graves and Pat Milbery of the So-Gnar Creative Division. The project required retrofitting nearly 100-year-old railroad infrastructure. The installation provides enhanced light, activation, color and safety to an important connector for the area.

“Two years ago, RiNo won the P.S. You Are Here Grant from Denver Arts and Venues to provide a creative solution to the sudden blindness drivers experience as they go from the bright light of 38th Street under the train bridge,” says Jamie Licko, president of the RiNo Art District. “We never anticipated the project growing into what it has become nor could we have predicted how much of a challenge this project would be, but the outcome is a spectacular utilization of art to solve a complex problem.”

The lighting installation, called Arabesque, will make one of the longest-standing connections between the east and west sides of RiNo safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike. Knomad Colab was tasked with creating an installation in an environment that was prohibitive of installations because the bridge and its walls are owned by Union Pacific Railroad and could not be touched. Ultimately, they drew inspiration from the antique railing underneath the underpass and worked closely with the City of Denver to use property fabricate a creative solution.

“Arabesque is the culmination of many individual paths woven together to create a unified fabric, a whimsical experience and a safe and inviting passageway for community members and visitors alike,” says Katy Flaccavento, half of the Knomad Colab team. “Arabesque invites all walks to travel through a fantastical portal, to weave their story into the thick fabric of what was, is and will be.”
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