Downtown Denver’s transformed Dairy Block comes to life as boutique hotel The Maven opens
Dairy Block is buzzing with activity — and not just of the construction variety.
The Maven, Sage Hospitality’s new independent boutique hotel, has already sold out a number of nights since unveiling its 172 loft-style guest rooms almost two months ago.
Kachina Southwestern Grill and Poka Lola Social Club opened their doors — and in Kachina’s case, a retro Airstream camper — around the same time to loud fanfare.
On the office side of things, the first tenants have also started settling in — McWhinney’s new Denver office opened in March, and anchor tenant Prologis was moving in this week.
But the development team behind Dairy Block — McWhinney, Sage and Grand American — said the best is yet to come for the high-profile redevelopment transforming the downtown city block once home to the historic Windsor Dairy through a mix of adaptive reuse and new construction.
“Once the alley is activated, it’s going to feel so different,” said Keo Frazier, McWhinney’s vice president of marketing.
That pedestrian alley cuts through the heart of the block, bounded by 18th, 19th, Wazee and Blake streets, and will be lined with restaurants, bars, retail storefronts and the hotel’s event space when completed this fall.
“We want to really set the standard for what we hope happens to future alleys, especially in LoDo — we spent a lot of time traveling to Barcelona, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and really studying and learning from some of the best alleys that have been developed throughout the world,” McWhinney CEO Chad McWhinney said. “Our hope is that, just like Pike Place Market in Seattle, that this will start to spur additional development of alleys throughout LoDo.”
The tenant lineup should be announced soon — a whiskey lounge and pizza place are among the as-of-yet-unnamed concepts, Frazier said.
Roost, a retail marketplace from the founder of Denver Flea, will sell goods from emerging makers and brands from Colorado and across the U.S. Also still to come is a 16,000-square-foot food hall that will anchor the corner of 18th and Wazee streets.
“We’re looking for tenants that are local, that are makers and/or are regionally exclusive,” McWhinney said. “We really want the best of Denver and the best of Colorado.”
“It will really be the first truly activated alley in Denver,” Sage CEO Walter Isenberg said. “There has been activation in alleys, but it’s been more programmatic. You have a pop-up beer party or an art exhibit. This will be permanent.”
Inside the Maven, one of the first things you see when you walk into the lobby is a giant hand hanging from the ceiling.
The statement art piece — “The Quantifiable and the Ineffable,” by Colorado artist Andrew Ramiro Tirado — is made from strips of reclaimed wood. In some ways, it reflects the larger theme of the development, Isenberg said. (All told, the hotel is home to more than 400 local art pieces curated Denver’s Nine dot Arts.)
“We started to hone this idea of a place, the entire Dairy Block, a place of makers,” Isenberg said. “You’ll see that coming through as the retail gets announced and as you walk through the building, whether you’re in the office building or the hotel. It feels like something that was in a lot of ways handcrafted.”
Designed by Brooklyn-based studio Crème/Jun Aizaki Architecture and Design, the lobby has a loungelike vibe, the multiple seating areas awash in leather and wood. A pop-up art gallery will make way this summer for a coffee shop, juice bar and flower shop.
Each of the hotel’s 172 loft-style rooms is a little different — designed by Denver-based Johnson Nathan Strohe, some even have “bunk beds,” a twin-size bed lofted over a king-size bed. Others have balconies and soaking tubs, while all have floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed concrete ceilings.
For its latest independent hotel in Denver, Sage set out to make something different than both the Crawford at Union Station and Halcyon in Cherry Creek — the Maven is meant to be a little more casual and a little less expensive, Isenberg said. Rooms start at $189 a night.
“People are spending a lot of time saying, ‘Oh, there’s all these millennials. I need to make my business appeal to millennials,’ ” Isenberg said. “We agree with that, but we also want those experiences to be able to appeal to baby boomers and cut through all generations.”
On the office side, McWhinney’s second-floor space embraces many of the latest trends in office design. A lounge/kitchen area could have been pulled straight out of a co-working space, with tall booths, beer and kombucha on tap and a bean bag toss.
Other office tenants include Prologis and CTRL Collective, a Los Angeles-based shared workspace provider.
“It’s going to be incredible,” McWhinney said. “For several years, a lot of very talented people worked together and put their heart and soul together into this project. You’re seeing the fruits of that labor.”