OZ Revives RiNo’s Iconic Gold Star Factory

As Denver continues to grow, adaptive reuse has become essential to retaining the character of our city. With warehouses a-plenty, the RiNo neighborhood is well equipped to seamlessly revive inactive spaces and maintain the unique architecture of the community. One of these properties is the Gold Star Sausage Co. with five linked (no pun intended) buildings and an iconic sign on the corner of 28th and Walnut.

OZ is re-developing this facility which once housed giant smokers, meat processing equipment, and vast coolers, into a modern light filled space that will house the likes of the sleek Italian kitchen and bath designer – Boffi. The project will become Denver’s poster child for transitioning a heavily used industrial facility into a cultivated design environment.

The building’s rich history includes operating as The Puritan Pie Co. around the 1920’s where Beat icon, Neal Cassidy, cut employees hair for payment in pies. Gold Star, the Colorado-based sausage company, moved in around 1940 and brought with it the iconic sign that once stood along I-25. Gold Star Sausage was fully operational until about a year ago when they outgrew the location and moved to Nebraska leaving the block-long development up for grabs. Before they vacated, our clients, Trent Rice and Brian Bair (NAI Shames Makovsky), with OZ Architect, Jeff Swanson, surveyed the space to see how the sausage was made, both figuratively and literally. The tour revealed the structural potential of the building.

In the wake of the move, the Gold Star building was left in a destructive state due to the removal of several two-story smokers and an array of other machinery.  Now, with construction underway, there’s already a notable difference as the building shifts from industrial to modern. Through this transformation, OZ has emphasized key features of the original warehouse revealing unique structural and material details.



First and foremost, the classic Gold Star sign remains as a beacon and historical marker at 28th and Walnut. The exterior includes low-profile canopies and elevated walkways to activate the pedestrian level and allow passers-by to view the retail space inside. Within the space, the original riveted bow truss ceiling and skylights have been soda-blasted to showcase the open ceiling and expose the natural wood that warms the interior. Large windows have been added throughout to bring in the natural light and, as a connection between buildings, the old truck bay will be used as a courtyard with a large mural in the true RiNo tradition.

The project is expected to house a number of creative firms, restaurants, and retailers and will complete core and shell build in January. The Gold Star design will be another exemplary model of adaptive re-use in RiNo, transforming the heavily-used warehouse into a fresh and contemporary space that maintains the building’s history and character.

Read more on Gold Star and the RiNo neighborhood from the Denver Post here. 

Watch the fly through animation below.