Westword founder and editor Patty Calhoun probably doesn’t need a coffin to strike fear in anybody, but she will take her casket, a gift from Denver’s Hearse Club, with her to the alt-weekly’s new home inside the Dodge Building at 13th and Lincoln.
“Right now I mostly use it to scare people but I think we’ll use it for our morgue in editorial,” Calhoun told Denverite. Translated, that’s “newspaper archive storage in the news department.”
The newspaper, known for more than four decades of journalism and takes that counter traditional media, will move next week to a coworking space. For the last 20 years, its home has been at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Broadway where the stark, neon “Westword” sign announced its presence boldly and dependably for so long.
Staffers will stay there for a couple of months before landing in April (unless there’s a delay) to 1278 Lincoln St. at the corner of 13th Avenue and Lincoln. The 95-year-old building was originally owned by James Dodge Motor Company (yes, that Dodge). It housed the Colorado Ballet until relatively recently.
Westword’s 10-year lease at 969 Broadway is ending. No changes to the building have been filed with the city’s planning department.
The newspaper will lease its new space from the second-largest property owner in the state, the Colorado Land Board, a state government entity that is only second to the federal government in terms of acreage owned in the state. The landlord recently renovated the building, including restoring the original stained glass and curved ceilings in the original Dodge showroom, and replacing the floors and windows.
Its new tenant is also going to make some adjustments.
“It’s a beautiful space and we’re designing it for other realities of a media outlet today as opposed to say, 20 years ago, when you had a huge classifieds department,” Calhoun said.
Westword’s new office will have “more fun spaces for people to hang,” and more private places to do interviews away from the newsroom hubbub, Calhoun said. Also — and this is all she would tell me because she’s reserving the best stuff for her eventual column — there will be a ping-pong table.
Calhoun said the company will have “some version” of the iconic sign on display.
As far as the location goes, it’s not all that different than the current digs. It’s a half-mile away, and still in a highly visible location. Plus it’s closer to the City and County Building and the Capitol where reporters report and produce reportage.
Calhoun is audibly thrilled about the move (except for the packing, which she is audibly disgusted by). But it’ll be hard to beat her favorite Westword office on the second floor of the now-deceased Wazee Supper Club in LoDo. It was back when downtown was laced with viaducts, which Calhoun said was “fabulous” because drivers would look into the newsroom as they passed.
But the best part — the best part — was the secret staircase. It took journalists the back way to the Wazee Supper Club bar. Calhoun said she loved that.