Trailblazing: 2800 Walnut St. Redevelopment
Urban Adaptive Reuse in Gentrifying RiNo District of Downtown Denver
Urban adaptive reuse is a redevelopment process that involves converting an existing, typically older and economically obsolete building into a new, repurposed establishment while retaining some of the original structural elements and features. Investors are increasingly attracted to adaptive reuse opportunities because of a growing preference for urban live/work environments, an increase in incentives from City governments and an increase in demand by tenants for historic buildings with unique architectural elements. So, when Pathfinder learned of the opportunity to acquire 2800 Walnut St.– a 47,000 square foot building in Denver’s River North (“RiNo”) district (and the former home of the Gold Star Meat production facility) – we were very interested.
The RiNo district has been in the midst of a renaissance, transitioning over the past several years from an industrial area to a vibrant mixed-use community. For decades, RiNo was isolated from the rest of Denver by a tangle of railyards and viaducts, which kept it off the radar screen of mainstream developers. But times have changed, the railroad yards and viaducts have been largely eliminated and RiNo is now beloved for its central location and mix of authentic industrial architectural elements and hip, urban feel. The area has been experiencing a major influx of new businesses and residents and has now become one of the Denver’s hottest districts.
Our 2800 Walnut property contains several unique architectural features including a brickwork façade, bow-truss roof systems, 30´ ceilings and a large exterior loading dock area that we plan to convert to outdoor restaurant seating and plaza area. Our business plan is to capitalize on RiNo’s surging growth and repurpose the building – emphasizing the project’s unique architectural features – into three distinct concept spaces featuring creative office, small restaurant/retail uses and potentially a brewery or distillery. Since acquiring the property in October 2015, we have commenced the demolition work and signed our first lease for about 25% of the building with an Italian furniture retailer.
“A community’s history is often the catalyst for its revitalization,” says Pathfinder’s Lorne Polger. “In undertaking an adaptive reuse project, it’s important to start with a solid vision for the property that incorporates high regard for the building and neighborhood’s history.” Pathfinder’s ultimate vision for the property is to create a thriving multi-use establishment that will buzz with energy and continue to stand out as a “gold star” project.