Sen. Andy Kerr spent his day on Friday, Feb. 28, getting immersed in the character and characters of Colfax Avenue as part of a Lakewood listening tour.
Kerr started the day with a roundtable at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, to discuss the impact of the creative industries in the area, and how upcoming projects like Artspace are helping to revitalize the West Colfax corridor.
Among those on hand at the discussion was Mayor Bob Murphy, Ward 4 councilmen Adam Paul and Dave Wiechman, Bill Marino, chair of the 40 West Arts District, Brian Willms, president and CEO of the West Chamber, and community activists and artists like Julie Byerlein and Lonnie Hanzon.
“We’re very impressed by the energy in the area, and there is a clear interest and civic support in the area,” Roy Close, vice president of special projects with Artspace said. “Arts have a transformative effect and can really revitalize an area.”
Hanzon spoke about the great mix of people the area has, like young artists at RMCAD to more established artists like he is, many whom work at studios at their homes and ship their work both nationally and internationally.
“There are all these cliches about what arts and creative industries are,” he said. “It’s not just painting, it’s also writing, architecture, performing arts and design.”
After the round table, Kerr and Ward 2 Councilwoman Cindy Baroway spent several hours visiting locally owned businesses in the West Colfax Business District: Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters, Prestige Auto, The Orchid, Banner Signs & Decals, the Lakewood Grill, the Everything Gallery and Seigneur & Gustafson, CPA.
At Sweet Bloom, owner and master roaster Andy Sprenger explained how roasting beans wholesale works, and walked through the process from getting samples of beans from all over the world to shipping the newly roasted beans.
“We have found there is a lot of interest in specialty coffee, kind of following the steps of all the microbrews Colorado has,” Sprenger said.
Justin Adis, general manager at Prestige Imports, spoke about the auto dealer’s more than 20 years on Colfax, and how the recent rezoning the city approved is allowing the business to grow.
“We’re looking to expand and separate the Audi and Porshe dealerships,” Adis said. “It would be an around $10 million investment in the area to do this.”
Kerr and Baroway received a trip to Lakewood’s past with Don Jelniker at The Orchid, a wine and spa shop built into an original 1872 Victorian home.
“We want to educate people here, not only about the history of the house, but about wine as well,” he said. “We’ve had excellent support and we’re starting to become a bit of a gathering place.”
Banner Signs and Decals, owned by father and son Dan and Jeff Lundin — both veterans — specializes in making all manner of sings, and the company has landed large accounts like Chiptole and Noodles & Company. Banner also does signs for the state capitol.
“All the stuff that is happening at the corridor is all good stuff, it’s all awesome,” Dan said. “It really behooves us all to work together, and the partnerships have been awesome.”
The tour made a pit stop at the Lakewood Grill, a Colfax landmark, before visiting Judy Cybuch at the Everything Gallery to get a sampling of Lakewood’s local art scene.
The tour wrapped up at Seigneur & Gustafson, CPA, where Kerr and Baroway heard from Ron Seigneur about the projects along Wadsworth, including the widening of the street that will be occurring soon.
“In a way, I do tours like this on a daily basis, but on an official tour like this, you really get to talk to the business people and hear what is important to them,” Kerr said.