Our Stories

Transforming Retail in the Heart of Art


As published in The Denver Post by Joe Rubino // View Article.

*above photo by Hyoung Chang

For an iconic outdoor apparel brand with a devoted fanbase and millions of social media followers, Patagonia demonstrated it has a knack for stealth in Denver last month.

The company moved into its new 11,160-square-foot space on the northeast corner of 26th and Walnut streets basically overnight on Dec. 15. Workers brought in loads of merchandise from the company’s longtime Denver digs at 15th and Blake streets without so much as an Instagram post. More than a month later, having already hosted gaggles of fleece vest fans and puffy jacket enthusiasts, there still isn’t a sign up on the building announcing it as a Patagonia store.

Quiet or not, the arrival of a household name like Patagonia carries weight for the River North Art District, bringing a new level of visibility and legitimacy to the growing retail scene in the still semi-industrial but ultra-trendy part of the city.

It’s the biggest name to land in the whole neighborhood. We’re thrilled to have them.”

Nathan Larramendy Director of the Visions West Contemporary (art gallery across the street from the store)

Larramendy put Patagonia’s opening on par with that of the Ramble, the district’s first hotel which debuted at 1280 25th St. in May 2018, in terms of the impact he expects it to have.

Another name brand outdoor gear company isn’t far behind. Burton Snowboards aims to open a combination retail-wholesale store later this year on the same block as Patagonia, taking on a 6,500-square-foot chunk of a former woodworking shop at the southwest corner of 27th and Walnut. The interior has a long way to go, but Burton put its logo up on the side of the building in time for passersby to see during the neighborhood’s hugely popular Crush Walls street art festival in September, company officials say.

We shopped around a long time for a place that felt authentic for ourselves and our brand. We love all the art that’s in the neighborhood. Our business has a really strong art element to it with our broad graphics and our graphics on our jackets.

Eric Bergstrom Burton’s Director of Global Business Development

Patagonia and Burton will share a common landlord: Retail real estate specialist EDENS. Born in South Carolina but now based in Washington, D.C., EDENS owns around 120 properties nationwide (mainly on the East Coast) with roughly $6 billion in assets under management, according to Tom Kiler, a managing director for the company who oversees its western region and is based in Denver.

Like Burton, EDENS and Kiler looked around Denver for some time before putting any more money down. But once the company zeroed in on RiNo, it invested big.

Dating back to May 2018, Edens has acquired 11 properties on contiguous blocks, spending just shy of $67 million, Denver property records show. In the process, it acquired some of the biggest attractions in the neighborhood including the building housing the Denver Central Market food hall. On the block between Larimer, Walnut, 26th and 27th streets — home to Patagonia and the market — the only property EDENS doesn’t own is the building occupied by the Matchbox, a bar that’s 2011 opening was a harbinger of the neighborhood’s impending hipness explosion.

“It has a lot of the fundamentals of a best-in-class retail district,” said Kiler.

He points to the area’s many industrial buildings ripe for adaptive reuse projects. The Patagonia building was once cold storage for Anheuser-Busch, he said. The neighborhood has a simple street grid. People might not always know where to look, but there is more parking in RiNo than other Denver neighborhoods. And, of course, there’s the thriving art scene.

There’s this authenticity and authentic foundation to this neighborhood. We saw an opportunity to be part of the evolution of RiNo in a positive way

Tom Kiler Managing Director of EDENS Western Region

For a company that prides itself on “enriching community through human engagement,” the commodity Edens is most concerned with capturing on its properties is people’s time, Kiler said. Its RiNo holdings are well-positioned for that thanks in part to their connection to the Crush festival and other special events and programs.

Last year, the 10th annual Crush festival drew 150,000 people to RiNo during its week-long run in September, according to Tracy Weil, the River North Art District’s executive director and co-founder. Over the course of 2019, an estimated 1.4 million people visited RiNo to see murals, Weil said, helping bring foot traffic to businesses all over the district.

RiNo was in the spotlight in real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield’s 2019 Cool Streets report last fall. Citing a major spike in creative industry workers in the city over the last 15 years, the report’s authors dubbed central Denver one big “Cool Street” with neighborhoods across the city being reinvented. But RiNo itself scored a “prime hipness” grade in the report thanks to high marks for its nightlife, music, art, food and vintage retail options.

RELATED: New to RiNo, Mister Oso is not serving your mom’s taco salad — or her barbecue tacos, for that matter

With plentiful blocks of space still available for redevelopment, Cushman & Wakefield director Tanner Johnson is predicting Patagonia and Burton may have some familiar neighbors in the art district in the near future.

“Right now, it’s definitely on a lot of tenants’ radars, especially from an outdoor retail perspective,” he said.

Still, Johnson sees Patagonia’s relocation as an experiment. In LoDo, the company’s store was near the Colorado Convention Center, a clutch of hotels and numerous large office buildings. It was a prime spot for people to stop by on their lunch hour and buy something. RiNo can’t match that daytime population at this point.

Patagonia’s head of retail operations Travis Serpa made it clear the move wasn’t motivated by sales so much as space and the company’s mission. Now in a location with a large back patio and private rooftop, Patagonia is already scheduling environmental activism events and offering free meeting space to local nonprofits in RiNo. The store is also a testing ground for a pilot gear-rental program meant to give shoppers an option other than buying more stuff, according to the company.

LoDo became very transactional and commercial over the years. Our new space in RiNo gives us the ability to host a lot more events so that we can engage with the community and encourage more people to take action to save our home planet.

Travis Serpa


See more of Patagonia’s new store: