Written by Laura Shunk, Westword

When CEO Chad McWhinney and his firm MCWHINNEY began plotting the Dairy Block development at 18th and Wazee Streets (a collaborative effort with Sage Hospitality and Grand American, Inc.), they knew a key component would be activating the alley that cuts through the block, so they visited successful alleyway developments all over the world. “We studied several alleys — the Meatpacking in New York City, Pike Place Market in Seattle, San Francisco’s Maiden Lane, Barcelona — and we got ideas for what works and what doesn’t,” he says. “No alley is the same — the amount of heart and soul that you put into the project shows.”

The partners eventually emerged with a plan to make the alleyway, simply christened the Alley, the central part of the the Dairy Block project, anchored by Denver makers peddling their wares. “The big idea is that it’s a makers project,” he says. “Makers will not only be selling their craft on site, but a number a tenants will be making their crafts here as well.”

The maker theme extends through the rest of the development as well, McWhinney points out. The massive hand that greets guests in the lobby of the Maven hotel, which came online earlier this year, was made by artist Ramiro Tirado using wood reclaimed from the project, and is intended to represent a maker’s hand.

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