Article and photos by Hollen Wheeler
About 30 minutes from the Castle Pines community is Denver’s hot new “innovation district,” the Dairy Block. Located in the heart of lower downtown (LoDo, as it’s commonly known) and walking distance from Union Station and Coors Field, the Dairy Block has something for everyone.
Nestled between Wazee and 18th streets, the Dairy Block offers 19 restaurants, coffee and craft cocktail bars, upscale shopping, office space and a boutique hotel. One of its unique features is “The Alley” – a walkway connecting the historic buildings and new construction, but it is not your typical path of dumpsters and garages. Outdoor cafes, flower boxes and artisans creating wares on-site flank each side. One of the developers stated, “Our vision was to create an activated alley bisecting through the whole property and mix office, retail, historic buildings and hospitality and make something really special.”
Over the past several decades, cities nationwide have been working with investors and developers to fuse abandoned and mostly industrial buildings with unique modern spaces, creating a cultural destination to attract business and pleasure seekers; hence, an innovation district or to some, a “micro-district.”
The Dairy Block is the essence of this urban model. As a visitor walks through it, milk (and its ilk) is pervasive throughout: cafe countertops with milky threads, public art displays and even an adult beverage at the Moo Bar, which yes, contains fresh milk, rum, cognac, seasonal fruit and spices.
The history of the Dairy Block goes back 100 years. In 1920, a rising star in the dairy industry, H. Brown Cannon founded the Windsor Farm Dairy and grew the business into an established and premium milk producer in Denver. Cannon was also an influencer in city politics and went on to serve as county commissioner and as the first governor-appointed dairy inspector. In 1988, the city of Denver created a historic district, and the Windsor buildings became part of the preserved area. They are now key elements of the Dairy Block.
Take the light rail, drive, walk or bike but find your milk at the Dairy Block. For more information, visit www.dairyblock.com.