January 2021 meeting of Pueblo Makes

Drew reminded people of the PSAS virtual STEM Fair this Thursday 21 Jan. If you signed up to be a judge, you will receive an email on Wednesday giving a link to the videos with a Google form to assess each video from Thursday through Sunday. Three judges will judge each video, by grade level. This year, due to COVID, all students did individual projects, not teams.  

Nathan Stern (nstern@broadstreetrealty.com) from Broad Street Realty in Denver spoke to us about planned development in the old Holmes Hardware Building (44 S Union Avenue), down Union Avenue from the Rawlings Library. He described his Pueblo connection (his great aunt worked for the steel mill) and the way he fell in love with Pueblo. He and his business partner Zach did various brokerage arrangements here, and he has sold property here, but after noticing the success of food halls in nurturing new restaurant in Denver, he decided to work on a food hall as a way for restaurateurs to get a concept off the ground, then open in their own place. On 3 March 2020 he put the Holmes Hardware Building under contract and shortly after that every restaurant in Pueblo shut down. This delay turned out to be a blessing since it gave him time to work on this project.

He showed us a presentation on the project (https://www.dropbox.com/s/gjjgv9vblnyg26x/Concept%20Deck%20-%20Fuel%20%26%20Iron%20-%2011.23.20.pdf?dl=0) including the history of the building.  Its location is ideal for drawing people down Union Avenue from the Riverwalk. He described the phases, starting with residential units (18 1-bedroom apartments, 18 2-bedroom, and 2 studios, unfurnished) on the top floors of the building, then the food hall, event space, urban farm, performing arts space (under the Union Ave bridge) and more residential units (working with IndieDwell). He hopes that the project will be catalytic. As people see this success, it will encourage more housing in the urban core. The downtown can’t be successful if no one lives there. The project will include many spaces for public art, including public art in the plaza, ornamental metal gates, an art wall, and more. The urban farm will include a playground.

The food hall will be all local companies. The project will operate the bar in the center of the food hall, leasing out five restaurant spaces and a coffee shop. It is intended that restaurants would be in the food hall for 2 to 3 years, and then open a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Pueblo. Since the food hall will include kitchen facilities and equipment, a start-up food vendor will need only signage, a menu (usually about six items), and specialty equipment, requiring roughly $20,000 to start instead of millions. Food halls tend to be profitable, allowing the start ups to establish a concept, gain a customer base, and save up money to open a restaurant. With housing on site, employees could live nearby.

Contractor bids are due back 5 February. Depending on those bids, he thinks they have sufficient investment to proceed and plans to close on the building on 7 April. The construction will be done in two phases to comply with requirements for state tax credits for historic buildings. The residential units should be done in January 2022 and the food hall in July 2022.

Nathan asked for feedback and ideas.

LaDoris asked about the connection with Watertower Place. Nathan said the two projects are complementary, since Watertower Place plans to have full scale restaurants, food retail, and a commissary kitchen, none of which will be in the Holmes Hardware building.  Keating School also plans to focus on retail. He said they want to be good partner and are also working with the Food Project. LaDoris and Nathan will talk about the potential for LaDoris to supply aprons and chef caps.

He said they have most of the money needed, but not all and they are providing an opportunity for people to invest as little as $100 through https://wefunder.com/fuelandiron. In response to Zach’s questions, Nathan explained the funding of the total cost of $14.5 million. $9 million through three different loans. Of the remaining $5.5 million in equity. $3 million is raised through tax credit equity programs, federal and state. Since state credits are capped at $1 million per phase and one phase must be finished before the next starts, the residential floors will open in January 2022, and then the Food Hall in July.  

Karen described to Nathan that the building is located within a portion of the Pueblo Creative Corridor (https://www.puebloarts.org/pueblo-creative-corridor/) and that the Pueblo Arts Alliance (https://www.puebloarts.org/) does group marketing for the area. She will help Nathan connect with creatives. The project will also have a gallery of historic photos.

Drew offered that his students at PSAS (https://www.psask8.org/) have expertise in designing playgrounds and can give him feedback. Nathan encouraged that connection since the playground will be in the urban farm which is viewed as an educational piece. Nathan is already connected with Deric.

Ryan Madic will be the first intern from CSU-Pueblo and there are plans to involve PCC and CSU-Pueblo. Pueblo students will be able to see a career path in food businesses. Paula suggested he connect with Brian Estrada, the new director of the SBDC, who did catering at PCC. Four of the six food hall locations are signed already. Amanda described the customized workforce training PCC can provide.

Nathan said he has already bought 48 mugs from Tuxedo Ranch. Jean discussed the potential to do events to coordinate volunteers to work on the playground and garden, involving adults and youth. Nathan liked the idea. The group suggested that Taylor Blanchard (https://www.facebook.com/Journeymans-Upholstery-168546867414064/) might be able to provide furniture. Nathan said there will be need for over 200 chairs and 50 to 100 tables. Formulary 55 might be able to provide products for the bathroom. Karen volunteered to provide another bath products business also.

Nathan is in Pueblo once a week so email him (nstern@broadstreetrealty.com) if you want to discuss collaboration on the project.

Karen updated the group on progress on the store to be opened in the lobby of the Arts Alliance Building, to accept donations of creative and making supplies: Creative Reuse Pueblo. Progress is being made in cleaning out the warehouse, creating a list of what we can take and not take, policies for volunteers, etc. The store will start with volunteer managers, eventually paid. A local artist is creating a logo. The official announcement will be at the end of February, but donations already coming in. Also, she reminded us that the Arts Alliance online store is up and running (https://www.puebloarts.org/shop-local-art/). To be listed there, send info to Karen (karen@puebloarts.org). For Pueblo Makes members, there is a 10% commission only on sales, not on shipping. The vendor must handle shipping.  

Jane described an opportunity to advertise online classes through Activingo (https://activingo.com/?i). She, Bill, and Elliott have their EJB Partners offerings on that website, and perhaps Pueblo Makes and the Arts Alliance could collaborate on a storefront there. Karen talked about the video studio being set up at the Arts Alliance which will help people make videos. Karen said she recently took a course on giving webinars and she encouraged all of us to consider offering short courses; while others may already be teaching such a course, your voice might reach someone. Russ pointed to Lucid Woodturners (https://www.lucidwoodturners.com/) as a resource to help learn about teaching online. Jane mentioned Gia Goodrich’s video on how to look good online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljySr6s6Lqk. The group was very interested in teaching online and we will focus the February meeting on resources for offering online classes.

Jane said she had checked with Alan of the City of Pueblo about the possible zoning change to allow small batch manufacturing in certain areas (for example, on Main Street); the proposal is on hold until an inventory of historic buildings is complete. She described the idea of making Main Street a maker/creative friendly location and there was interest in pursuing that idea. LaDoris described a vision including childcare for workers.  Paula volunteered to run a session to expand that vision, which we will plan to do at the March meeting.

LaDoris announced that Project Inspire (https://www.projectinspire.community/) will have an event on 6 Feb with a Valentine’s Day theme where vendors can sell products.

Pueblo Makes meets the third Tuesday of each month, 3:30-5 pm, via zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84158525191?pwd=K1lsQWRSQy83Q1NLVXZxQzlBOUw2Zz09)

The next meeting dates and tentative topics are:

  • 16 February – online teaching of art and making classes
  • 16 March – vision for creative/maker Main Street: Making on Main Street

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