With just one small spot left, Backyard on Blake is officially up and running in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood.
The development transformed a warehouse and the surrounding area near Blake and 31st streets into The Preservery restaurant, Meraki Moon boutique and 11 other businesses. A grand opening for Backyard on Blake is scheduled for 3-6 p.m. Saturday.
In summer 2014, Mainspring Developers dropped $4 million for the 3000 block of Blake Street between 30th and 31st streets.
“Originally, we were just going to redevelop the warehouse and sell all the other land on each side off,” said Fiona Arnold, president of the company.
“But when we started thinking about what was happening in RiNo, we realized there was very little green space and very little community space available to a neighborhood that was highly residential, and increasingly residential.”
Mainspring ended up selling the south portion of the block to a developer who built 14 townhomes. But the Denver-based company also constructed a courtyard and new building with a rooftop patio north of the warehouse.
“It’s open to the public, and we provide it for free to community groups and nonprofits that want to do events on the rooftop just to really give the people who anchor the community we’re fortunate enough to be in a place to go,” Arnold said.
“We really tried to create a place that people feel they belong to and that belongs to them because it’s really tough in these big cities as they get more crowded.”
Backyard on Blake is Arnold’s first commercial real estate project. She started Mainspring Developers in 2014 before serving a two-year stint as executive director of Colorado’s economic development office.
“I’ve always wanted to do things that are right for the community, but during my time working for the state I was fortunate to have so much more exposure on the things that the city needs to keep enhancing the quality of the life for the people that live here,” Arnold said. “That’s something that’s definitely a part of the DNA of our development company.”
In addition to Backyard on Blake, Mainspring is heading up the construction of The Orpheus condos in Jefferson Park. The 26 for-sale, “attainable” units start out at 633 square feet for $259,900, according to the project’s website.
Mainspring finished redeveloping the 12,000-square-foot warehouse on the Backyard at Blake property at the end of 2015. Arnold is a co-owner of the River North Workshop Co. home goods store located there.
The new courtyard and roughly 9,000-square-foot building were completed during mid-2016. The last of the 13 tenants, Blue Sparrow Coffee, opened at the site at the end of March.
“It’s been very positive,” said Keri Farmelo, who heads up community relations for Mainspring. “Tenants have been moving in one by one. A lot of them built their space out for what they wanted to do.”
Mainspring is “negotiating but super close” to leasing its final vacant space to an ice cream shop, she said.
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