A commercial building that originally served as a furniture store in downtown Hotchkiss has been repurposed and will now serve as headquarters for ShadeScapes Americas.
ShadeScapes, which designs innovative outdoor shade solutions for a global market, was co-founded in 2002 by Jo Edmondson of Paonia. Until now, ShadeScape's employees were scattered about, working from home or in rented office spaces throughout the valley. The vision was "to create a contemporary/industrial look with a vintage edge that fits right in with our industry," said Edmondson. "We wanted to create a place where high-end designers could feel at home and comfortable."
With the exception of a few details, work on the nearly nine-month project is complete. Last Friday Edmondson honored her team of contractors and subcontractors, designers and craftsmen, laborers, measurers, realtors, lenders and suppliers by throwing a party.
After considering three properties in Paonia, the company invested in the 7,500-square-foot building last July. Edmondson was familiar with the building and knew it was "beautifully maintained."
Kathy McKee and the Hotchkiss Crawford Historical Society voluntarily compiled a history of the 1907 building which originally housed Hotchkiss Furniture. "It's had a lot of uses over the years," said Edmondson. But for most of its life it's been a furniture store, a tradition that will continue with outdoor furniture.
Most recently, Julia Littlefield had converted the space into a large showroom for The Buffalo Collection, a high-end furniture design and leather business. While the space was perfect for her business, ShadeScapes needed more office space and a cleaner, more modern look. Two street-level offices, at one time a doctor's office, a beauty parlor, and the accounting firm of Lewis and Company, and two small upstairs apartments were also converted for company use. ShadeScapes now offers a large showroom, meeting, training and conference rooms, ADA-compliant restrooms, and office space to accommodate 22 employees.
Maintaining historical design aspects of the building, framed with old-growth Douglas fir and brick, was an important goal, said Edmondson. "We scoured salvage yards in the area, so you'll see many elements of Delta County history in the windows, doors and wood elements."
Project manager Don Foster with Hearth Construction in Hotchkiss came out of retirement to design the space. "His work is amazing," said Edmondson. "Don came up with ideas we would never have thought of."
Foster said his small crew was given all the time and freedom needed to do the job right. Every inch of the space was measured and entered into a CAD program, allowing Foster to explore different design ideas and make adjustments as the project progressed.
Demolition was done with an eye toward re-purposing materials. An original door and transom discovered on the main floor hidden between drywall and a brick wall, with its tattered curtains still hanging on the window, now accesses office space. Window frames were salvaged from local sources, and Tuin Glass installed the glass.
Sections of balcony removed from the main showroom were converted into a mezzanine, supported by a wooden beam salvaged from a former Delta flour mill. Wooden balcony railings were replaced with about 150 feet of metal railings custom designed by Chuck Behrenzmeyer.
An original freight elevator is preserved in its original location.
ShadeScapes director of marketing Lori Marek, Paonia designer Jeanine Devlin, interior designer Loni Gibbs from Denver, and ShadeScapes director of operations Dierdre Austin were on Edmondson's design team. Using bright colors and taking advantage of natural light, they created a rich, warm space that has the feel of summer, while pendant lighting, custom metal and wood elements give the space a modern industrial look.
ShadeScapes business partner Christophe Haemers traveled from Belgium to attend the party. He called Hotchkiss "a unique spot for a unique company." With markets in more than 70 countries worldwide, ShadeScapes' corporate office could be located anywhere in the world, "As long as they support our story."
Haemers said his friends and clients are easily convinced to visit Hotchkiss when he explains that it's located half-way between Aspen and Telluride.
Even in the finish work, great care was put into every aspect of design. Custom touches include an oversized photo mural in the show room of dandelion seeds heads parachuting into the air. Created by Megapixel Digital Imaging in Montrose, the mural was Foster's idea and was inspired by the Chip Thomas mural at the Church of Art, said Edmondson. She's long admired dandelion art but only recently recognized the floating seed pods as tiny umbrellas.
First Colorado National Bank financed the project, but the catalyst, said Edmondson, was a Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) grant from the Department of Local Affairs. Delta County Economic Development facilitated the grant process. DCED executive director Trish Thibido said the organization will continue to help the business through its stages of growth and ensure that it stays in Hotchkiss.
The new space can accommodate up to 22, said Edmondson. With the exception of independent sales representatives, Shadescapes' 12 current employees are local. The company is looking to add another 10 employees in the near future, and has long-term plans for growth.
Nathan Sponseller, president of the Hotchkiss Area Chamber of Commerce, said Shadescapes' international exposure could attract national and international attention, and possibly more businesses to Hotchkiss. That would be great, said Sponseller. With several Bridge Street storefronts empty, "There's still a lot of room."