The Candy Factory is open again at a 130-year-old historic building in downtown Denver.
But instead of churning out confectionaries, it’s drawing a mix of tenants and users to a 9,698-square-foot co-working space on the second floor of the Baur’s Building near the Theater District. Dazzle restaurant and jazz club occupies the first floor, and Sams3 restaurant anchors the corner of 15th and Curtis streets.
KEW Realty Co. bought the three-story building at 1512 Curtis St. in 2004 for $1.87 million, Denver Assessor records show. It’s the former home of O.P. Baur Confectionary Co., which was started in 1872 by German immigrant Otto Baur and moved into the Curtis Street location in 1891.
“The 1881 Baur Building housed the most popular and longest-lived confectionery, catering, and restaurant firm in Denver,” according to History Colorado.
Jeremy Spira, Candy Factory co-founder and vice president of leasing and development for KEW, said it actually launched with a soft opening and social media campaign in February 2020. That was right before the COVID-19 outbreak caused the world-wide pandemic that sent office employees home to work.
“2020 was not a good time to open a co-working space,” Spira said.
Since KEW owned the building, it gave them the flexibility to sit on the space and ride out the pandemic.
The space had been recently refurbished by longtime tenant Linhart Public Relations, who moved to the trendy INDUSTRY in RiNo in 2018. It also used to house the offices of 5280 Magazine. KEW tried leasing the space to a traditional office user, but Spira kept hearing what a great co-working space it would be.
“The layout was perfect for it, with offices lining the outside, conference rooms throughout, a kitchen and big meeting room,” he said.
They installed DIRTT “demountable,” or modular, walls that allow for offices to grow or shrink depending on the user. The clever nods to history are everywhere, from the vintage pictures of Baur’s factory workers, to the old wooden truck bed turned into a conference room table, to the “ear candy” station with a phonograph and records.
Designers found an old children’s menu from Bauer’s restaurant and blew it up for a kitchen poster: “Did you ever see Baur’s chocolate cow? Her hair is soft as silk; She sprinkles chocolate on her food and then gives chocolate milk.”
Watson & Co. handled much of interior design and décor.
Spira calls it “retro modern” – a perfect example of the adaptive reuse of older buildings, with the brick walls still showing, wood beams and “faux industrial” tin ceilings.
“I just love how they repurposed the historical elements – it’s new space but they kept it historical,” said Marina De Salis, chief marketing officer for Flor Americas.
The small cannabis company, which works on the I.P. side and distribution channels to South America, made Denver its U.S. hub.
As the growing company, which started in 2019, started getting momentum in 2020 it was not as productive to work remotely, De Salis said.
“We just looked at each other and said ‘is it time to go back to face-to-face?’,” she said. “Absolutely yes. We’re at a pivotal point in our company and need to be all in the same room to implement our pandemic pivot.”
Now their office overlooks Curtis street and they’re energized by the other workers and companies that have started using the Candy Factory.
“There’s definitely a sense of innovation here you don’t get at other co-working spaces,” De Salis said. “We used another one before and it didn’t have that friendly vibe – it was almost too corporate.”
Tenants get an actual street address for mail (1514 Curtis St.), access to the printer, WiFi, video chat rooms, a wellness room and an events space. Different tiers of membership allow access 24/7, or just hourly desk use for walk-up customers.
“That’s our vision from where the market was going – flexibility is the key,” Sprira said. “In 2021, each month has been better than the last.”
Spira said some companies are shying away from long-term real estate leases for office space.
“Maybe instead of a 5-year lease, a company gives a stipend to the team and says ‘go find some co-working space near where we need to be’,” he said.
“Our community is growing and getting along and there’s a lot of emotional intelligence here.”