Hanging It Up

In fact, it wasn't profitable at all. Weiler says she's broke, so broke that even though she thought about opening a small jewelry store, perhaps in the Pavilions project that pushed Planet Hollywood out of orbit, she's going to regroup instead. And she predicts she won't be the only one making that move. "I wasn't alone in thinking LoDo would be a really good retail location," she says. "Everyone's leases are coming up in the next year or two. There will be lots of changes in LoDo."

But they won't be next door at the Robischon Gallery, which almost a decade ago moved from 17th Avenue to 1740 Wazee--and plans to stay there. "We've been looking for a place to be permanent for years," says Jim Robischon. "We've looked at every single part of the city." And they decided to remain here, in its historic heart.

It helps, Robischon says, that the gallery is close to downtown hotels, so that travelers interested in his high-end, high-quality art can walk over and visit. It helps that, unlike Weiler's place, the gallery doesn't rely on lots of small sales. And it really helps, of course, that Robischon has a landlord supportive of the arts, who charges only $2 more a square foot than he did eight years ago. If the building's owner had wanted to, he could have leased the space to a restaurant for twice, three times the price.

Robischon looks at the old furniture warehouse across the street, destined to one day house a steak place and more high-priced lofts. He glances down the street toward Il Fornaio. And he talks of the day when these restaurants will send customers over to the galleries rather than the other way around.

"People think LoDo's already happened," he says, "but it's just started in a lot of ways."

The most unusual of those ways is just a few doors away. Oilman Fred Mayer and his wife, longtime patrons of the arts, are building a multi-million-dollar residence in the parking lot that once rubbed up against the old Terminal Bar. And although Weiler suggests that construction obstacles over the past year helped keep business down, Robischon is looking ahead. Perhaps the people invited over to the Mayers' private museum will wander around the neighborhood a bit, look into the nearby galleries.

Or whatever's left of them.
In the meantime, the Mayers' project has already added to the artistic legacy of the neighborhood. The plywood walkways and walls around the construction site are covered with murals. One, a more painterly creation titled "Denver's Past, Denver's Future," was created by students at the Denver School of the Arts; the other, an energetic, graffiti-inspired piece, comes courtesy The Spot, a teen hangout a few blocks away.

This is art that could hang on the Wazee's walls.
It's art that captures a city. And it's still on display in LoDo.

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