1) The Future of J&W Campuses: Denver Takes a Dramatically Different Path than Miami
Gov. Polis visited the Johnson & Wales (J&W) campus on Aug. 20 to personally meet the people who are giving the campus a new life. With the transformation of this property, children and adults who most need it will have opportunities to improve their quality of life educationally, in their jobs, and in their housing (all described in a July Front Porch article). A group of far-sighted community leaders led by the Urban Land Conservancy came together quickly and, despite competition from developers, secured the property’s future for the good of everyday people in Denver.
According to a press release from Gov. Polis’ office, the Miami and Denver campuses are about the same size (25 acres) and sold for a similar price ($60 million). But the Miami campus was purchased by a development firm, PMG, that is known for its portfolio of luxury apartment towers and hotels, including the Waldorf Astoria, the tallest skyscraper in Miami.
We don’t know PMG’s plans, but they surely are nothing like those of the people pictured at right who are telling Gov. Polis about their businesses that will be using the J&W kitchens.
J&W’s exceptional kitchen facilities will continue to be managed by Jorge De La Torre (blue shirt), but now they will be used by non-profit programs that train workers and support entrepreneurs in food businesses.
Julie Stone (at left in the photo) is executive director of Work Options, a 25-year-old non-profit organization that helps people overcome barriers to sustainable employment by providing a 4-8 week holistic culinary job training program and long-term employment support. Erick García (white shirt) is with Kitchen Network Commissary, Denver’s longest running shared kitchen that incubates approximately 150 specialty food businesses each year. Julie Casault (far right) is with BuCu West, a non-profit that promotes and supports entrepreneurs and cultural organizations.
2) Coming to NW Aurora: Judi’s House—Providing Support for Grieving Children
Judi’s House provides free grieving support and care to children and caregivers. It was established in 2002 by Brian Griese, whose own mother passed away when he was just twelve years old. Judi’s House was established by Griese in her honor to give back to grieving children and teens. Griese is a former football quarterback drafted by the Broncos in 1998 and current commentator on ESPN Monday Night Football. JAG (Judith Ann Griese Foundation) is the research component that supports Judi’s House.
Judi’s House currently exists in two locations on Gaylord St. in Denver and is relocating to a single larger space. The site at 10125 E. 25th Ave (25th and Fulton) is approximately 1.7 acres; the building will be approximately 26,117 sf. The two-story building is planned to have features that give it a residential quality, such as a front porch, outdoor space, big kitchen and dining area. It has 50 parking spaces on site. Staff (research and outreach) work during the day for regular business hours, and in the evenings after most staff have left, families, volunteers and counselors are on site from 5:30 until 8pm to serve the clients. The backyard will be enclosed with a solid 6 foot fence to provide privacy for children in the program.
3) Flyway Project in NE to Have a Costco
Denver City Council voted unanimously on Aug. 16 to rezone The Flyway development at Green Valley Ranch Blvd. and Memphis St. (just west of Peña Blvd.) The development will include Costco and other retailers and restaurants. Costco is expected to employ more than 270 people in jobs paying an average of $23/hr with benefits. Opening of the Costco and other retailers is expected in the fall of 2022.
4) TOCA Football Acquires Bladium
Bladium on Central Park Blvd. in south Central Park was acquired on August 23 by TOCA Football. TOCA operates 14 soccer centers in the U.S. and Canada that feature soccer training technologies that are used by some of the best professional teams and players around the world. The Bladium-turned-TOCA will continue with the same manager and staff and will offer the same fitness options, classes and special event options. TOCA’s New Venue Manager Renee Larabell says, “We look for centers that are in a great community, a great soccer community with an incredible staff where we can come in and just build upon what they’ve already been doing successfully….People will just see a different name on the building.”
For younger children (starting at 18 months) programming will continue as it has been. More advanced players, from about age 7 and older, will start seeing some of TOCA’s training technology introduced in their sessions this fall. By early 2022, 12 studios will be equipped with the enhanced training technology TOCA is known for.
“Each studio is about a thousand square feet, approximately 40 feet long and 25 to 30 feet wide, and in each corner, you have goals, which we call our smart targets,” says Larabell. “Then you have a touch trainer and that is our ball machine. The touch trainer and these smart targets are controlled by an app on an iPad that our coaches use, so these studios can really create any type of soccer training experience. They can control the speed of the ball that’s coming out and where that ball lands. The target will light up in different ways to tell the player where they want to place that ball. The TOCA trainer will review what happened in each session with the player and with their parents. And then the player will also have access to their own TOCA player portal.” TOCA will build 12 of these training studios.
For more information about TOCA Football visit TOCAfootball.com or stop in to TOCA at E. 23rd Ave. and Central Park Blvd. in Central Park.