Backyard on Blake developer to rehab Uptown office building

The building at 1576 N. Sherman St. in Denver sold for $5.64 million. (Photos courtesy of Mainspring)

The developer of RiNo retail complex Backyard on Blake is taking on a rehab project in Uptown.

Denver-based Mainspring, led by Fiona Arnold, earlier this month purchased the three-story office building at 1576 N. Sherman St., paying $5.64 million — or $199 a square foot — for the 28,286-square-foot structure.

Fiona Arnold

Arnold told BusinessDen that her firm plans to take the building down to its studs on the interior, and reposition it with a mid-century feel for a new generation of users.

“We were really attracted by the windows,” Arnold said, adding that the structure’s size was also desirable given the relatively small size of her firm.

Coworking firm Workability previously operated in the building, and a lobbying firm has been on the top floor, Arnold said. Mainspring, represented by Joey Gargotto of NAI Shames Makovsky, bought the building from Killin Properties LLC, which purchased it for $4.9 million in 2014, records show.

The building is a block north of the state Capitol, and Arnold noted that she’s spent plenty of time in the vicinity, having led the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade under former Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The 1576 Sherman building dates to 1959 and was designed by James Sudler, a local architect who also assisted in the creation of the Denver Art Museum building. That said, it has drifted from its original appearance.

“It actually looks a lot different than it did,” Arnold said. “It had a whole facade on it that was removed.”

Arnold said she plans to request permits for interior demolition in the coming weeks, and hopes to complete the work by mid-2023. Gensler is the project architect. Sprung Construction is the general contractor.

In addition to refreshing the interior, Arnold said Mainspring plans to install and operate an all-day cafe facing Sherman Street, “which we think is really needed in that area.”

For those looking to get some work done, she’s aiming to be a bit more than a typical coffee shop but less than a coworking space.

“Around the cafe, we’re also going to do some little booths and little conference rooms that you can book through the cafe,” she said.

Mainspring has experience in the food and beverage sector. In addition to its development work, the firm owns the local coffee shop and bar concepts Blue Sparrow Coffee, Room for Milly and Queen’s Eleven, which operate in RiNo and on Platte Street.

An old photo shows the original facade on the 1576 N. Sherman St. building.

Arnold estimated the renovations will cost about $6 million.

She said she envisions also adding a rooftop bar at the Sherman Street building, but that won’t be part of the initial phase of upgrades.

This will be the first office rehab project for Mainspring, although there is some office space within Backyard on Blake, which Mainspring developed at 3070 Blake St.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Mainspring proposed constructing a hostel in the 3000 block of Welton Street, but Arnold said that project remains on hold.

“We just don’t have the stomach for a hostel at this point,” she said.

Mainspring also plans to renovate its former garage building at 4500 N. Broadway in Globeville for Prodigy Coffeehouse, a nonprofit that helps young adults build life skills, and to build two apartments on the site. Prodigy already operates at 3801 E. 40th Ave. in Elyria-Swansea.

Arnold said Mainspring is also under a long-term contract to purchase the former fire station building at 3201 Curtis St. in Curtis Park from nonprofit Women’s Bean Project.

The building at 1576 N. Sherman St. in Denver sold for $5.64 million.…

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