Some people look at the bumpers, mufflers and other vehicle parts in Yota Yard in Denver’s River North neighborhood and see a nearly half an acre of junk.
Others see another potential spot for sipping alcohol and eating tacos in a trendy courtyard.
Developer Mike Mathieson is in the latter category. He dropped $1 million for 3134 Walnut St. during spring 2014 and now plans to start building a distillery, taco-tequila bar and beer garden on the site next year.
“We tried to come up with something that was cool and that could reuse the buildings that were here,” Mathieson said. “The Rock Drill site is the only other one that I know of that has a setup like this.”
The site where Yota Yard is operating calls back to when RiNo was not a name people used for the warehouse district. The land once was used by Thompson Pipe and Steel Co. before Yota Yard took over in 1999, Mathieson said.
The change to 3134 Walnut means Nancy Wales needs to soon find a new, ideally two-acre, site for all the Toyota and Lexus parts in Yota Yard. Wales owns the company and said a new site is hard to find, especially with the cost of land being expensive and zoning codes making it easier to open trendy courtyards than salvage yards.
Mathieson filed a plan with the city last year to redevelop the land. He is one of dozens of developers who have their visions in hand but their city approval pending.
Redeveloping Yota Yard would transform its portion of the 3100 block of Walnut and be yet another new, hip spot in the greater RiNo area. Northeast is the “almost bucolic” Blanc event space. And The Walnut Room has been selling pizza across the street since 2005. Without working up a sweat people could walk from Yota Yard to Epic Brewing Co., the site Odell Brewing Co. is going in, The Populist, Bar Fausto … the list goes on.
These new developments are peppered in among manufacturing and industrial sites like Raquelitas Tortillas on the other side of the salvage yard, on Larimer Street.
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