GOLDEN – Miners Alley Playhouse, which has operated in the heart of downtown Golden since 2003, has entered into a contract to purchase the nearby shuttered Meyer Hardware store for $4.95 million and turn it into Golden’s first-ever performing arts center.
The iconic store, which closed in September after 48 years at 1103 Arapahoe St., takes up 15,000 square feet of prime real estate that was being eyed by residential developers. Instead, MAP Executive Director Len Matheo plans to incrementally open a 300-seat live theater, meeting and event space for the benefit of the entire Golden community.
“Our team saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow one beloved Golden organization at the site of another,” said Matheo, who imagines “a vibrant public space where arts, heritage and community thrive.”
Matheo put his whirlwind deal together through a public-private partnership that includes the Downtown Development Authority, On Tap Credit Union, Golden Civic Foundation and several downtown businesses. “There is a big local coalition of people involved,” said Matheo, who will soon launch a $3 million capital campaign to pay for construction.
Matheo believes he will close on the purchase by the end of the year and open the new Miners Alley Performing Arts Center in stages. He hopes to launch with an interim, storefront-type theater that will host performances of the musical “Hair” next summer while construction of the permanent, state-of-the-art theater progresses.
The ultimate timeline will depend on a variety of factors, including fundraising, supply-chain availability and fitting the new space with new bathrooms, fire protection and disability access. But as soon as he has some seats, a stage and a permit, Matheo said, he’ll be staging live theater of some kind in the new building.
“In life and in business, a lot of things take longer than they should,” Matheo said. “But we think we can fully open the new theater within a year.”
The plan is to preserve and incorporate Meyer Hardware’s existing exterior and incorporate it into the new arts center. “Our vision embraces the history of this building,” said Matheo. “We didn’t want to see someone tear down the building and develop more condos on that lot.”
Matheo said the eventual arts center will include community rooms, classrooms, rehearsal space, offices “and a robust bar that continues the Miners Alley tradition of building community – one drink at a time.”
The fate of the MAP’s existing 130-seat theater, where it is currently presenting “The Crucible” through Sunday, is unknown. That theater, originally opened by Rick Bernstein above the now-closed Foss Drug at 1224 Washington Ave., presently sits atop a variety of businesses including
Peak Cycle, Vital Outdoors and Foss Liquor. Matheo is open to partnering with other metro arts organizations if that would allow the space to continue to operate as a performing-arts venue.
Matheo believes the new arts center will increase arts access and engagement in Golden by offering educational classes, collaborations with visiting artists and more.
“The new building will allow for more opportunities,” Matheo said. “But it’s important to us to retain the intimate community feel our patrons have experienced at Miners Alley since 2003.”
Meyer Hardware’s final location opened in 1973, though its roots in Golden go back to a store called Sarell & Dawson that opened in 1892. The business has been owned and operated by members of the Meyer family since 1945, when Joe Meyer purchased the store and renamed it after himself. His grandson, Steve Schaefer, has run the business for 25 years since taking over for his parents, Harold and Marilyn Schaefer.
Steve Schaefer has emphasized that his decision to close was not based on the pandemic or chain-store competition. He has reached retirement, and could not find a viable owner who wanted to keep the business as a hardware store.
“We thank the Schaefer family for selecting us to carry on their legacy of excellence and community support,” said Lisa DeCaro, president of the Miners Alley board of directors. “Though we were all sad to see Meyer Hardware close, we’re excited at the prospect of becoming a catalyst for a whole new era of community and connection.”
Visioning work is underway to develop the surrounding lot as a town square that would promote pedestrian movement and public gatherings – and be named in honor of the Meyer family.