A year after Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. moved out of its former Baker facility, the 42,000-square-foot building has been sold.
Jeff Barton, managing partner of Denver-based River Rock Capital, purchased the property at 471 Kalamath St. for $5.4 million on March 30 under the entity Kalamath Land LLC, according to property records.
Barton plans to redevelop the former brewery site into either apartments or an office building, although he cautioned plans are still in the preliminary stages.
“The city has zoned this to go five stories for a reason,” Barton said. “We’re there to add to the community, whether that’s with housing or creative office space. There’s so much potential within the Baker and Santa Fe arts district, so we want to figure out the highest and best use for that land.”
The production facility was sold by 471 Kalamath LLC, managed by Steve Mooney, which paid $3.4 million in 2015, according to property records. The property was put on the market for $6 million in March 2021.
Crazy Mountain moved into the Baker facility in 2015 after Breckenridge Brewery’s 20-year stint, and moved out in April last year, opting instead to contract brew with Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. The company plans to take over Alpine Dog Brewery’s former taproom at the corner of Colfax Avenue and Ogden Street, but has yet to open there.
In October last year, 471 Kalamath LLC sued investors of Crazy Mountain, alleging the brewery still owed back rent. The case has yet to be resolved, court records show.
Barton told BusinessDen he was originally interested in purchasing the building to help Crazy Mountain and keep them as a tenant before the brewery decided to move out. River Rock is a private equity investment firm, focused on multifamily and commercial real estate as well as struggling businesses.
“We considered finding a new brewery to lease the property, but realized the space is too big and it’s not feasible for smaller, local breweries,” Barton said.
Barton sold Crazy Mountain’s brewing equipment, including a 50-barrel brewhouse, more than 40 fermentation tanks, two large grain silos, three forklifts and a canning line, to Tauber-Aarons, which is auctioning off the equipment until May 18.
“As soon as we got rid of the stigma that it’s a brewery, now it can be so many different things, and we’re trying to unlock that value,” Barton said.
Barton, along with two silent investors, have already submitted a concept plan to the city calling for a five-story, 274-unit apartment complex at the site. He said he will submit a new set of plans soon with a smaller number of units. Kephart is designing the project.
“If the goal is to maximize square footage, it’d make sense to build five stories high with whatever size apartments that gives an optimal lot, no amenities, and sell it to somebody looking for yield,” Barton said. “I don’t think that’s what the Baker district needs, and that’s not a property I want to be involved in. I want to bring some value to the city that I live in.”
“We like what’s going on in the area,” he added. “Trinsic is also building a great apartment building nearby on 5th, and even further south, you’ve got Smokin’ Yards BBQ and Stranahan’s Whiskey. There’s a ton of turnover in that area and upside to that location.”
Barton, 51, got interested in real estate as a side job in 2005. Before starting River Rock Capital in 2018 with partner Brad Cushard, who is not involved in the Kalamath project, Barton worked at Microsoft as an executive for 18 years. He moved to Denver from Silicon Valley in 2001.
Barton said he and Cushard are also managers of Robinson Marketplace LLC, which purchased multiple buildings that make up the former Robinson Dairy complex along 6th Avenue in 2018 for $10 million. Barton said three of the buildings have been resold, and he hired Alcorn Construction to redevelop the main production facility last year.
“We came into this project with a mindset that we were going to lease it as food production and cold storage. But that did not work out. So, we made the decision to get it to a dedicated warehouse and yard user landscape, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing right now,” Barton said.
Barton and his partners have gutted the 52,000-square-foot dairy production facility with plans to complete the project in June, and said they’re hoping to lease or sell the space to a traditional industrial warehouse user.
“By stripping away and bringing it back to its basics, everybody can see new potential with the space,” Barton said. “Before, when it was a production facility, nobody could see it. But when you polish the floor and paint the ceiling, people are shocked that this is available in the city.”
River Rock also previously built and sold 56 townhomes in Littleton last year.