Words by Jill Ladwig
The 88-year-old former bindery at 2901 Blake St. recently has been transformed into a new kind of bindery. Today’s edition joins two distinct buildings, a handful of vibrant businesses, and bonds arts and commerce. An example of adaptive reuse at its best, it also provides nourishment – in this case, both economic and culinary – to the neighboring community.
Bindery on Blake is the brainchild of Sonia Danielsen, partner of Danielsen Investments, LLC, which she owns with her husband Barry. It’s the realization of a vision she’s long held for the property and, while the Danielsens have transformed other defunct warehouses into vibrant loft spaces, this project is especially close to her heart.
The Danielsens started their business in 1994. They wanted to focus on commercial and residential property in the River North area – mainly because the downtown neighborhood is in Sonia’s blood. Her family has owned businesses in RiNo for almost 80 years.
Bindery on Blake now comprises more than 67,242 square feet and includes the buildings at 2901 and 2875 Blake St., as well as 100,000 square feet of land beneath the buildings. Located near Coors Field, the development is in RiNo.
The one-story red-brick building at 2901 Blake St. was constructed in 1927 to serve as a foundry for a company called Magnus Metals. That building eventually was turned into a warehouse before Sonia’s family purchased it in 1976. Their business, Eastwood Printing, operated in the building for almost 40 years.
“I spent almost my entire adult life working in that building,” Sonia says. “My heart was totally in it.”
She erected the building at 2875 to house the company’s giant (and expensive) bindery equipment. In 2004, Sonia sold Eastwood and began leasing the two buildings. When both became vacant in 2014, RiNo was beginning to take off, and Sonia and Barry decided to revitalize the property. They hired OZ Architecture and Sprung Construction for core planning and construction. The echoes of foundry, printing and warehouse still can be found in architectural and decorative details throughout the property.
The old warehouse has been converted into a soaring space that’s attracting a dynamic group of creative tenants. Those fortunate groups include Motive, an advertising and marketing firm that relocated from the 16th Street Mall; Davis Partnership Architects; Spazo Prego, a kitchen design and retail space; Metropolitan Flooring; and 13 art studios. According to Sonia, the artist studios were husband Barry’s idea.
“RiNo has done so much for us, and the artists are what really has made it cool,” Sonia explains. “We wanted to give back to them by providing affordable space for art to be created.”
In a gesture of good will toward the neighborhood they love, the Danielsens decided to lease the artist studio spaces for $500 per month “all-in,” meaning rent includes Internet, water, heat and electricity. (At the time of this writing, more than half of the 13 studios had been leased.) Clerestory windows provide copious sunlight and blue-sky views throughout the building. They’re a favorite feature among the tenants of the new space, as well as of Sonia.
“I love the fact that you can be in the middle of this huge building and still have tons of natural light coming in from the ceiling,” she says.
Davis Partnership Architecture, which moved in Jan. 4, has turned the cavernous space into an inviting and inspiring place for its 150-person team. After searching for new headquarters in central downtown Denver, the Denver Design District and the Highlands, the firm’s leaders chose the newly renovated warehouse on Blake Street for its “good bones” and its dynamic environment.