McWhinney files plans for Great Divide site along Brighton

Redevelopment planned for brewery facility in Denver

Great Divide Brewing Co.’s Barrel Bar as seen from Brighton Boulevard. (BusinessDen file)

In 2015, Denver’s Great Divide Brewing Co. opened a massive packaging facility along Brighton Boulevard in RiNo after months of construction.

Seven years later, the developer that recently bought it is already eyeing its eventual demolition.

McWhinney, a real estate firm with offices in Denver and Loveland, on Monday submitted development plans to the city for a 4.7-acre site in the 3300 and 3400 block of Brighton. The plans call for two new structures, one residential and one office.

McWhinney purchased the undeveloped southern half of the site from Great Divide in December 2019 for $20 million. This past December, two years later, the firm bought the northern half, where the packaging facility sits. The purchase price for that deal was never made public, although records show McWhinney took out a $23 million loan in connection with it.

McWhinney has previously said only that it planned to eventually develop a mixed-use project at the site, and declined to address whether the Great Divide facility would be scrapped. But the plans submitted Monday made the eventual demolition clear, and provide specifics regarding the scale of the planned project.

The two structures would each feature a parking podium, with ground-floor retail space.

The 500-unit residential building, which the submission indicates would be 750,000 square feet, would feature two towers rising above the podium with residential units. It would top out at 12 stories. The office building would be approximately 420,000 square feet, with a single tower topping out at seven stories.

McWhinney declined to make an executive available for an interview about the project.

Great Divide was founded at 2201 Arapahoe St. in Denver in 1994, and still operates there. Founder and President Brian Dunn told BusinessDen early last year that the company was selling its packaging facility property because its production had decreased, in part due to rising competition.

“Once the Brighton facility opened, our growth rate slowed down and we no longer had the urgency to move brewing operations to Brighton. But we felt that it would happen over time,” Dunn said in January 2021. “It turns out that we never really needed all of the packaging capacity we put into Brighton.”

Despite the sale and redevelopment plans, Great Divide still operates at the site.

“Over in RiNo, the Barrel Bar is open and thriving and we recently renovated our Barrel Cellar to be a private event space and taproom overflow,” Great Divide spokesman Matt Sandy said in a Tuesday email. “Beyond the Barrel Bar and Barrel Cellar, we maintain cold and dry storage at the facility.”

McWhinney’s redevelopment effort could be years from physically beginning. Many developers working in Denver have been hustling to submit concept plans to the city by June 30, so that their projects won’t have to comply with the city’s pending income-restricted housing mandate, which the City Council is slated to vote on next month.

And Sandy said Great Divide doesn’t expect to move off Brighton anytime soon.

“We plan to remain in RiNo for at least the next 5-10 years,” he said.

Redevelopment planned for brewery facility in Denver

Redevelopment planned for brewery facility in Denver

Great Divide Brewing Co.’s Barrel Bar as seen from Brighton Boulevard. (BusinessDen file)

The developer wants to replace the existing packaging facility with a 500-unit, 12-story residential building and a seven-story office building.

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