Podcast: 3 Best Food Halls in Denver

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August 26, 2019

The story of the Stanley Marketplace and the impact of creative food halls on communities with Bryant Palmer, Founder of Oh Hey Creative

On this episode Iā€™m speaking with Bryant Palmer, founder and Chief Storyteller at Oh Hey Creative, a boutique marketing and communications firm that specializes in opening food halls and telling the stories of small businesses.

Bryant's team at Oh Hey Creative helps run Stanley Marketplace and Broadway Market, and is currently working on other food hall projects in Golden, Colorado and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Podcast Transcript

Chris Arnold: Welcome back to the Transforming Cities podcast. Each episode highlights ideas around rethinking the way cities are evolving. We discuss planning, design, technology, development and other fields that contribute to the urban experience.

Bryant Palmer: You know, I'd help at the school where I worked, you know, rewrite their mission statement on worked on two other projects where a new business was trying to figure out its vision and I sort of helped them with the copywriting piece of that. And so Mark was like, "Well, we need a vision statement of some kind." And we started chatting about that a lot, and that turned into a manifesto for Stanley Marketplace, which we call the Stanifesto.

Chris Arnold: I like it.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, it made sense. It worked. And that was my first real contribution to the project.

Chris Arnold: On this episode, I'm speaking with Bryant Palmer, founder and chief storyteller at Oh Hey Creative, a boutique marketing and communications firm that specializes in opening food halls and telling the stories of small businesses. Bryant helps run Stanley Marketplace and Broadway market and is now working on other food projects in Golden, Colorado and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Chris Arnold: A few quick notes before today's episode. If you enjoy the podcast, please share this track and others on your social accounts to people that you think would be interested. Also, please rate it on iTunes or other platforms where you listen. This is how we grow and it's much appreciated.

Chris Arnold: This podcast is driven by Authentic Form & Function. We're a design and technology studio working on tools and platforms to improve the urban space. You can find out more online at authenticff.com. And, finally we want to hear from you, email your feedback and ideas of who else we should speak with to podcast@authenticff.com. I'm your host, Chris Arnold. Let's jump right in. Bryant, thanks for joining me today.

Bryant Palmer: You're very welcome. Thanks for having me.

Chris Arnold: So you found yourself in recent years being the founder of a go-to creative marketing shop for new food halls. We'll discuss that in more detail in a bit.

Bryant Palmer: Okay.

Chris Arnold: But first, take us back a few decades because I know you weren't originally in that space.

Bryant Palmer: That's true.

Chris Arnold: So tell me about that.

Bryant Palmer: Sure. My beginnings. Well, my first career was in education, so I grew up in a really small town in Alabama, college in Tennessee and then immediately went to New York City. First for grad school. But I knew I wanted to be in that great metropolis. Stayed there for a while then yeah, started off as a teacher when I was 24 in New York City in a great little school. Did that for a really long time.

Bryant Palmer: But, it's New York City so you've got to hustle, especially when you're in your early twenties so I had a little freelance writing business on the side, that helped supplement my income and fulfill some of my creative interests. That morphed over the years into more of what I'm doing right now.

Chris Arnold: I have to admit, when we first connected in Denver, you've been doing your thing Denver for a while now. I've been doing my thing in Denver. After we met and we were planning this podcast. I have to admit, I didn't know that you were from the South because I hail from Virginia myself and I actually, I didn't connect with your, you know, a little bit of a Southern twang still. I'm curious, why did you leave the South and go for the big city? What was the story there?

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, sure. You know, if my mom called right now, you would hear a Southern accent hardcore. Or if we had a bunch of drinks on the table then it would come out really profoundly. I would imagine.

Bryant Palmer: I grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, birthplace of Harper Lee. It's the little town's claim to fame. But I think, you know, when I was growing up there, there were maybe 3,000 people in the town and it was small. And for whatever reason I was always interested in bigger.

Bryant Palmer: I'd watch TV as a kid and see these big cities and be compelled to visit them, or know more about them, or want to be there. And so that was definitely a part of my journey is, is trying to find something that was bigger, more exciting.

Chris Arnold: Had you been in New York City before you made the decision to move to New York City?

Bryant Palmer: Before I moved there, I'd been there twice. So I went to school in Nashville and then my second year of college I went to a journalism conference in New York City for a few days. Blew my mind. I loved every second of it. Had no sense of direction. In hindsight now, I can look back on where I was saying and what neighborhood I was in. But at the time it just seemed incredible and magical.

Bryant Palmer: Do you know Bob Costas?

Chris Arnold: Yeah.

Bryant Palmer: Sports announcer?

Chris Arnold: Of course.

Bryant Palmer: So, this is a long time ago, but we land the crew of journalists. I studied journalism in college, not as my major, but we were on the paper and that's why we were there. We'd land, we'd get a, I think it was a van to our hotel. And as soon as we check into the hotel, we go to a deli on the corner and Bob Costas is standing inside the deli. And we started a conversation with him and we're like, "Hey Bob Costas, what are you doing?" And he's like, "Oh, I'm looking for carrot cake." So, he was having his driver take him from Delhi to deli to deli in Midtown Manhattan until he found the perfect carrot cake that he wanted to buy. That was my first moment in New York City and my first interaction, and I don't know, struck me as special.

Chris Arnold: That's wild.

Bryant Palmer: Funny. Yeah.

Chris Arnold: Yeah. I know Bob Costas really just from the sports angle, NBA basketball and things like that, but that is a story for the ages, it seems like.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah. Well, you know it solidified this idea that New York City was the place where important people spent their time and were wild and random things would happen.

Chris Arnold: Yeah, so you went to New York City, you became a teacher. Did you always know heading into that transition that that's what you wanted to do and that's where you were headed after school?

Bryant Palmer: Not in a deliberate sort of goal-setting way. I think one of the byproducts of growing up in a really small town is that often your world might feel a little small. I wasn't thinking very big picture when I was a kid, even in high school and not even really in college. I moved to New York City for graduate school. Studied writing there, mainly because I wanted to be in New York City and because I love writing, but I'd always worked with younger kids.

Bryant Palmer: Even in high school I'd volunteer to help out younger kids and the first thing I did when I got to college was sign up for junior achievement, I was 18. Within two weeks of getting to school, I was put in fifth grade class in rural Nashville. Walked in, met the teacher. She left the room. I was there for an hour teaching these kids. I was like, "What are you doing? I don't know what I'm doing." But I loved every second of it. I thought it was great.

Chris Arnold: That's fantastic. So, how long did you do the teaching thing? I'll call it the teaching thing because I don't have a better turn of phrase right now.

Bryant Palmer: That's fine.

Chris Arnold: How long did you do that in New York City?

Bryant Palmer: 15 years. I was at the same school the whole time. I was a teacher at first and then I went into school leadership. So, I was an administrator as well. My last couple of years there I was working in the development office of that school, doing marketing communications, community building for the school community. That's around the same time that I was thinking about coming to Colorado and doing similar work to what I do now.

Chris Arnold: And so, you had this period where you were thinking about coming to Colorado. You were somewhat thinking, maybe I'll transition away from teaching. You officially started, and I say officially started because I know that you were doing work well before then, but you officially started your creative shop in 2015. You were still back East. What prompted you to make that more official?

Bryant Palmer: Sure. Stanley Marketplace, little project in Northwest Aurora, I hope you've heard of. I started spending a lot of time in Denver in 2009 because my sister and her husband moved here. We're very close. I introduced them a really long time ago. So, I started coming to Denver and enjoying my visits. I wasn't really thinking about a career change at that point in time.

Bryant Palmer: But, in late 2013, early 2014 my brother-in-law started working on what was at first a beer-hall project. He wanted to open a little beer hall in the Stapleton neighborhood of Denver. And I was giving him some casual advice, proofreading a business plan, talking about possibilities and ideas just as a brother-in-law would. Particularly one who happened to like food and restaurants a lot.

Chris Arnold: There you go, that helps.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, that was a connection. Through a series of fortuitous events, that project turned into something bigger, which is now Stanley Marketplace. As that was happening, I started helping out more and more. At first it started as a joke, you know, Mark and my sister would be like, "Well, when you move here to help us open Stanley..." Ha ha ha.

Chris Arnold: Little did they know. Little did you know?

Bryant Palmer: Little did I know. Yeah. Even in early 2014 it didn't really cross my mind that that's something I'd be doing a year and a half later.

Chris Arnold: So before we jump into the Stanley Marketplace story, because it's a great story and for those not familiar with it, I think they're going to enjoy it. I'm curious about the difference between some terms we hear. So let's pause for a minute and define a few things.

Chris Arnold: In the real estate space, there's market halls, there are food halls, there are marketplaces, so on and so forth. And I would say as the landscape evolves, there's more and there's twists on them. Are all of these kind of the same thing? Are there specific attributes that we should note about each of them to listeners, or how would you define that?

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, that's a great question and not an easily answered one. When I think about all those terms, I think a lot of them are indicating the same thing and different people might pick and choose which one sounds the best. You know, I grew up in the land of malls, not close to where I live. We'd drive for a mall, but in the mall was a food court and that was a place where a bunch of small vendors would serve their food and there'd be communal tables in the middle. That's what a lot of people think about when they think about food halls today.

Bryant Palmer: If we're getting a negative review on one of the food halls I worked on, would refer to us as a food court. Right? Similar concept, but a little bit upgraded. So for me, I use the term food hall the most, which is a variety of food-focused vendors under one roof with communal space, often working on a collaborative goal.

Bryant Palmer: And to me, that's what Stanley Marketplace is in part, it's certainly what the other projects I'm working on would be defined as. But we use market hall every now and then. I hear marketplace. Marketplace makes sense for Stanley because it's more than just food. That spot has 50-plus businesses under one roof, working together collectively. But there's food, retail, fitness, health and beauty. A little bit of everything. I don't know if that clarified it.

Chris Arnold: That does clarify it. So, when we're talking about marketplace for the purposes of the Stanley Marketplace story, we are envisioning retail, various services, office space, obviously food as well. So that clears it up, I think for me.

Chris Arnold: So, okay, let's jump back in. You kicked off your creative shop right around the time Stanley was getting going. It was becoming a reality, 2014, 2015 if I'm recalling correctly. So what's the story there? I know it starts with your brother-in-law.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, I mean it starts with my brother-in-law a little bit, but I'll tell you, I, you know, I started teaching in, well... a really long time ago. I'm dating myself. But as soon as I started teaching, I also had freelance writing gigs on the side. Those weren't formal, but I'd do three or four or five a year. And that sort of turned itself into a business just because it ended up being a notable part of my income. So, I had this background of working on projects at least a little bit, but when Stanley Marketplace started, I realized I need to formalize things.

Chris Arnold: So what is the story, Stanley Marketplace in general? Paint the picture for listeners about what they might see when they approach and, if you don't mind, take that back a few years and tell us what it was like before it became what it is today.

Bryant Palmer: For sure. So, late 2013 a couple of neighbors in the Stapleton neighborhood of Denver decided they needed a place to hang out, that was in the neighborhood, fun, family friendly, Colorado focused and not a giant chain restaurant. For whatever reason, a lot of the spots in that neighborhood initially were the same kind of places you'd see in Kansas or Illinois or anywhere across the country. There was an interest and a need in something that was local and cool and fun.

Bryant Palmer: Mark, my brother-in-law and a couple of his neighbors put together this plan to open a beer hall, Colorado-focused, craft beer, food, family friendly, just a neighborhood hang out. Wrote a business plan, got some chef support, started talking to neighbors and found that everybody they chatted with was really excited about this idea. Started looking for land in that neighborhood and were having a hard time finding a spot.

Bryant Palmer: In the meantime, they started presenting this idea at community board meetings and neighborhood association gatherings of various kinds, and without them really realizing it, the city of Aurora heard about this plan. One day Mark got a call from a retail specialist at the city of Aurora and said, "Hey, I hear you're opening a beer hall or want to, we'd love to show you a building."

Bryant Palmer: At this point, Mark was looking for 3,000, 4,000 square feet in Stapleton. These folks took him to Stanley Aviation, 140,000 square foot abandoned building on 22 and a half acres of land.

Chris Arnold: 135,000 more square feet than he was anticipating.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And his first reaction was, you know, "What the hell am I going to do with this giant building?" And, "You couldn't fit a beer hall here." I mean, you could.

Chris Arnold: You could fit a few of them in there, apparently.

Bryant Palmer: It'd be... yeah, you could fit a few of them. It'd be the biggest beer hall in the world. But at the same time, that building was really special. I mean, I remember the day Mark called me and told me he'd saw that place. I was in New York at the time and he was like, "Well, we toured this building," and the more he talked about it, the wilder, it seemed. Like, obviously this is not going to work. You can't have a beer hall that big.

Chris Arnold: But then is it like dot, dot, dot. Right?

Bryant Palmer: Yeah. Right? Exactly. It won't work. Right. That was hesitation. And Mark is a visionary guy and, and for a variety of reasons, he's the kind of person who can sort of see things before they happen sometimes. And he's a yes guy more than a no guy, which I think is important if you're an entrepreneur.

Bryant Palmer: And, at first it was like, "Well, it's a big building, but what if we opened a beer hall and a coffee shop, and a yoga studio, in this one little corner of the building. And maybe we could just rent out the rest of it, right?" Like, maybe some sort of a, at first it was a film company, "Maybe a film company will want to use this building." Because the city of Aurora had talked to a film company about it. And then it was like, "Well maybe it could be just like office space, the rest, everybody needs office space."

Bryant Palmer: And the more Mark talk to small business owners in that neighborhood, the more people who were like, "Yeah, that sounds kind of cool." Until he started believing that it could actually be a full-on spot for small businesses.

Chris Arnold: And as that idea evolved, I know that you became more and more of a reality for that project. And so how did they, how did that grow? How did Mark and his small team start to pull you in to the greater picture there?

Bryant Palmer: Sure. I mean I was still in New York at the time. I was working on a few projects and I was in the development office of the school where I worked. But I'd done work for a few different businesses involving manifestos, for lack of a better term. I'd helped the school where I worked at, rewrite their mission statement. I'd worked on two other projects where a new business was trying to figure out its vision. And I sort of helped them with a copywriting piece of that.

Bryant Palmer: And so, Mark was like, "Well, we need a vision statement of some kind." And we started chatting about that a lot and that turned into a manifesto for Stanley Marketplace, which we call the Stanifesto.

Chris Arnold: I like it.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, it made sense. It worked. And that was my first real contribution to the projects, putting that together and helping articulate what the vision of the space would be. All of us were coming to this project from various backgrounds, not related to real estate development. You know, we hadn't done that before. So it was a lot of wishful thinking and making things up as we went along, in part, because we didn't know any better.

Chris Arnold: Tell me about, and I know this from your notes and you've told me the story, the pitch that Mark gave you, the pros and cons of to come here or not to come here. That is the question. How did he approach that with you?

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, I mean like I said, it started out as a joke at first so we were just joking around and the more... Because at first, "Oh yeah sure we're going to take this old building and turn it into a giant marketplace with a bunch of businesses." Right. That's definitely going to happen. You know, that was our feel at the very beginning. But the more it seemed like something that feasibly would come to life, the more I was helping out.

Bryant Palmer: So, summer of 2014 we finalized the Stanifesto started sharing it with business owners and Mark would report back to me about all the people who are interested in the project and signing on. We knew that summer we were going to officially announce the project. So to get ready for that, we claimed a bunch of social media channels and because that was work I'd done before for other groups and organizations, that was my role. I'm going to handle Instagram and Facebook and Twitter for this business.

Chris Arnold: And what was the timing to get on that? That was the summer of 20...

Bryant Palmer: Summer of 2014.

Chris Arnold: 2014.

Bryant Palmer: And Mark signed up with a local PR agency as well to help figure out how to announce the project. They are terrific, B Public Relations. They were great. And they sort of said, "All right, here's how you tell the press and get local attention, etc." And we had a lot of conversations about what the place would be called.

Bryant Palmer: We knew it would be called Stanley something because it had been Stanley Aviation 1954 manufacturing facility that specialized in airplane ejection seats. So another reason that we couldn't say no to the project is because the history of the building was so cool.

Chris Arnold: So rich.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, so rich, and it had this beautiful, you know, neon 1950s sign with the Stanley logo still on the building. It just made sense to take that and try to revitalize it.

Bryant Palmer: At one point, Stanley Aviation was the biggest employer in Aurora and it was right by where the Stapleton airport was. So, people who grew up around here, particularly in the '50s, '60s and '70s knew that building. People would drive to that building and park alongside it to watch the planes land and take off. Runway 26 is now 26th Avenue that runs through Stapleton. And, so many people were familiar with that place, but it had been sitting abandoned for a long time.

Bryant Palmer: So, the more we learned about the history of the building, the more we realized it made a lot of sense to try to do something innovative and interesting in a place that had been so innovative and interesting.

Chris Arnold: Yeah, absolutely. How was that transition for you, moving from New York City? You officially made the move out here to Denver. What sticks out, memory wise, for you during that time?

Bryant Palmer: I mean it was a scary move. You know? I was right around the time this is happening, I turned 40. So it's of sort of a moment where you're thinking about bigger picture of your life. I guess. I'd ended a significant relationship, which is another life change that makes you think about bigger picture things. My sister and Mark had two kids at that point, and so I was coming out here to spend a lot of time with them. I really wanted to be a great uncle and the Stanley project itself just seemed like something it'd be really powerful to work on.

Bryant Palmer: I wasn't excited to leave New York City because I still love that place. Feels like home to me. But, I think you asked this earlier, the big deciding factor was this idea of like, okay, let's say you help out from afar occasionally and Stanley takes off and it becomes a big success, but you stay in New York City and continue down your path.

Bryant Palmer: How are you going to feel in 10 years if Stanley is a giant success and you're tangentially involved from afar a little bit? Are you going to always wonder what more you could have done? Are you going to regret not being more involved in that project?

Bryant Palmer: And, on the flip side of that, you know, let's say you moved to Denver, Colorado and you work on the Stanley project really hard and you give up the security of your life. I should note that I lived in a rent-stabilized apartment in Manhattan. So you know, the kind of the kind of place you don't really get very often. You know? It was a, it was a wonderful, wonderful lucky draw in my life. So moving here wasn't easy in that regard.

Bryant Palmer: But, the thought was let's say you move here, you work really hard on this project and it all falls apart. Like it doesn't work. And, there were a lot of reasons early on that it might not have worked. How would you feel in three years if you've left your whole life and you've used up all your savings and project is a failure? And I thought, "I can handle that. You know, I'll learn a lot of stuff. I'll be with my family, I'll have a new adventure behind me and there's still room in my life to return to education if I want to, or see where it takes me." So I got really comfortable with that idea of potential failure.

Chris Arnold: Well, fast forward now almost a handful of years, and Stanley Marketplace is, for all intents and purposes, known as an OG destination marketplace in Denver, now. How does that feel? How does that resonate with you?

Bryant Palmer: Oh, it's so great, man. It's wild. I'm there most every day still, and we've been up and running for about two and a half years. Fully open for less than that but, it's wild. Thousands of people go to that place every single day and have a great experience in one way or the other. There are 50-plus businesses there that weren't before, and it's more than 500 new jobs that didn't exist before. We don't pause that often to actually think about what's happened there. But there are certain moments where you just capture this feeling that's really special.

Chris Arnold: Well, this should be one of those moments, right? You're on a podcast right now talking about Stanley Marketplace.

Bryant Palmer: That's wild.

Chris Arnold: That was just a kind of a glimmer in your eyes just four or five years ago. That's really cool.

Bryant Palmer: No, it's been amazing. We learned a lot, definitely made some mistakes. Definitely would do some things a little bit differently, but it's a great group of small-business owners. You know, probably the best part of that project for me personally was getting to know this community of local Colorado businesses.

Bryant Palmer: Every single business inside Stanley is a local small business here. Getting to know them, helping them tell their stories, helping them work together in a really collaborative way. Yeah. It feels really good.

Chris Arnold: Have you thought about what, what even is Stanley Marketplace in three years, five years, 10 years?

Bryant Palmer: Oh man. I think about that all the time. I mean, I'm more focused right now on 10 year and 20 year mark. Right? I mean, I help plan things that happen there two months from now, so that's definitely a part of my daily life. But, I like to imagine what that place is going to be like in 10 years, 20 years. You know?

Bryant Palmer: I think about everybody in the Metro Denver region knows what Cherry Creek Mall is. Right? It's everywhere. Everyone just knows what it is. I want Stanley to be that way in 20 years, if not sooner. I want everybody in the Metro region, all however many million people in the surrounding counties. and cities of Colorado to just know, "Oh yeah, Stanley Marketplace."

Bryant Palmer: We started that project with this idea of something like a cultural gathering place. So we're trying to do lots of really interesting things over there, that are always going to be changing and different and exciting. And I'd love for people to visit Colorado and think, "Oh, we've got to do these six things," and Stanley and be one of them.

Chris Arnold: I like the term you used there, gathering places because, it's a great segue into what you're doing these days. So your original business was, I guess let's call it freelance. It then became Bryant Palmer Creative.

Bryant Palmer: That's right. Really original name.

Chris Arnold: Really original. Hey, we all, we all do it, we've all had it. And then in 2017, the end of 2017 I believe you transitioned into, Oh Hey Creative. So what is this shift in mindset?

Bryant Palmer: Sure. Well, when I first moved to Colorado in 2015 I was working primarily on Stanley Marketplace, didn't have a clear plan for what I'd do beyond that, I knew there was a lot of worth there. I still had a couple of clients in New York that I was doing projects with, but I wasn't thinking long term at that point. As Stanley developed, and we got it up and running and it worked, I realized I really loved the work and that there was a lot of exciting things happening around Colorado.

Bryant Palmer: Mark and his core team started working on some other projects and asked me to help with those. So I figured it was time to sort of formalize and be something a little more interesting than Bryant Palmer Creative. So changed the name to Oh Hey Creative and honed in on a pretty particular focus.

Chris Arnold: Yeah, let's talk about that. I want to do a really quick jump off here, to a side road, and ask where did the name Oh Hey Creative come from.

Bryant Palmer: Oh, sure. Yeah. That grew out of Stanley Marketplace. So when we were first starting that project, we were trying to figure out what Stanley would be called. We knew Stanley would be part of the name, but we didn't know if it would be Stanley Market or Stanley Center or Stanley Marketplace. We eventually landed on Stanley Marketplace and then we started the, we had to claim the social handles, so Instagram, Facebook, et cetera. Stanley Marketplace was already taken. Stanley Market was taken. There's a pub in the UK that's got the handle Stanley Marketplace.

Chris Arnold: Of course there is.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, of course there is. And then Stanley Market is in Hong Kong. The really well known the street market that's been around for a really long time. We knew we could get the name Stanley Marketplace and we have that website URL. We couldn't get that on Instagram, for example.

Bryant Palmer: And so we had to come up with something a little different that was still close to Stanley and we wanted something casual, fun, approachable, and after a lot of brainstorming and chatting, we landed on Oh Hey Stanley. I mean that's our Instagram handle, Oh Hey Stanley, and Facebook and Twitter, etc., and it's sort of part of the Stanley ethos.

Bryant Palmer: When I was putting together the kind of approach I would take with my business on other projects that really resonated, and Stanley's what launched my whole second career.

Chris Arnold: Yeah. Let's talk about that second career. So how would you define that niche of markets or market halls or... Yeah, how would you describe that?

Bryant Palmer: Oh Hey Creative is, right now, a boutique marketing agency and we focus on marketing and communications and community building, primarily for food halls and other collaborative development projects. So, we're working on four different food halls right now, helping them figure out their stories, helping them tell those stories to other people.

Bryant Palmer: We handle the digital marketing, advertising, basically everything they do to get the word out about those places. And then we work with a couple of small businesses that aren't food halls but that have some similar needs.

Chris Arnold: Sure. What are the food-hall projects that you're working on now? If you can talk about them.

Bryant Palmer: I can, all four of these. Stanley Marketplace of course. And then Broadway Market is at 950 Broadway and close to downtown Denver. That opened three months ago, almost three months ago today. No, three months ago tomorrow. So, we handle the marketing communications and that sort of thing for Broadway Market. Great little spot.

Bryant Palmer: Then we're working on two right now that are slated for 2020 openings. One of them is the Golden Mill in Golden, Colorado and the other is called Malcolm Yards Market and that's in Minneapolis. So our first out of state project.

Chris Arnold: Now, do all of these projects have something in common with like reusing space or a bigger story behind the landscape of the building? Or, is there a unique thread I guess with all of those?

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, there are a couple, I think. You're exactly right about the repurposed buildings. So all of those projects involved, older building that had sort of outgrown its current use, and all of them are community focused. Not to throw a phrase around, that might be overused these days. But we really do approach these projects from this community aspect. You know, I think in part because of our various backgrounds that are a little non-traditional, but we work really closely with the businesses that are going in there, to build a sort of culture.

Bryant Palmer: You know, you're not just a tenant signing a lease and saying, "Okay, I'm going to make tacos in this food hall, or, "I'm going to, I'll do the empanadas and you'll do the bar and you'll do the sandwiches, or whatever." It's much more collaborative than that. That's a big part of the work that we do.

Chris Arnold: So as we, as we begin to wrap up, and I feel like we could talk about this for another hour.

Bryant Palmer: All day long.

Chris Arnold: Just about all the marketplaces. I want to know a little bit about what makes you tick personally as a creative person. A creative thinker. What's keeping you motivated? What gets you excited as you look ahead?

Bryant Palmer: Sure. You know, one of the reasons I was really excited to move to Denver had to do with the growth that the city is going through right now. I think of myself as a New Yorker and that's a place that is constantly and evolving, and I think that's really exciting. So being able to work in the food industry especially, with local chefs doing really interesting things, that's inspiring. Getting to know those people and getting to work with a lot of those small businesses. That's really inspiring. When I need a break from all that I read. I love books and always have, I'm a bookish kind of guy.

Chris Arnold: Got the book buff.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, a book buff, if you will. Yeah. And I feel like I draw a lot of my inspiration from stories that other people have written.

Chris Arnold: So, I'm going to put you on the spot now.

Bryant Palmer: Oh, do it.

Chris Arnold: What is the book that you recommend right now?

Bryant Palmer: Oh my God.

Chris Arnold: What's the book of the hour?

Bryant Palmer: Oh, that's tough.

Chris Arnold: That's a really tough question.

Bryant Palmer: Well, the book of the hour is the book I just finished, right? So, Machines Like Me, by Ian McEwan. Just came out a few weeks ago. He was actually here in Denver. Tattered Cover brought him out, that place is a gem of a bookstore.

Chris Arnold: It is.

Bryant Palmer: Got to hear him speak about that. It's a really interesting novel about... It sort of imagines that humans have created artificially intelligent humans and sort of what might go awry when that could happen.

Chris Arnold: So hit the listeners with that title one more time.

Bryant Palmer: Machines Like Me,

Chris Arnold: Machines Like Me. So I'm going to go ahead and-

Bryant Palmer: I finished it last night so it's fresh in my brain.

Chris Arnold: Fresh in your brain. Yeah. We're going to put that in the show notes just so people can get to it quickly. Another thing that you mentioned to me was theater. Tell me how the theater connects.

Bryant Palmer: Oh, absolutely. Well, first of all, I had no idea how rich and diverse and fascinating the Denver theater scene is, until I moved here. So, I've been incredibly fortunate, to do a couple of projects with Denver Center for the Performing Arts and in particularly, their branch called Off-Center, which is their more experiential experimental branch. So, we produced two shows at Stanley Marketplace. One of them was called Travelers of the Lost Dimension in the spring of 2017 and another one was an immersive theater musical called The Wild Party. We have an event space at Stanley called The Hangar at Stanley. They transformed that space into a 1920s Manhattan apartment. Wow. Performed a Broadway musical inside it where you'd be sitting on a sofa. I'd be in the kitchen. Other people would be on a settee in the living room and the performances happened all around us.

Chris Arnold: No way.

Bryant Palmer: It was amazing. It was so great. I saw it seven times. Yeah, it was wild. I mean, you know, I work there, so I was there all the time. It was so good. And there's a lot of really interesting things happening right now in the immersive theater world, especially in and around Denver, in Colorado.

Bryant Palmer: I just saw, recently, well, three different immersive shows in which, well, two of them are one-on-one. So it was a performer and me. And that was the show. That's really interesting and amazing and challenging and strange and really cool.

Chris Arnold: Let's do one more plug here.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, please. I'm full of plugs.

Chris Arnold: I know that you have some history with CultureHaus.

Bryant Palmer: I do, I do.

Chris Arnold: So, talk to me about how that connects with your creative ecosystem here.

Chris Arnold: Yeah, for sure. My first friend in Denver was this woman named Castle Searcy, we worked together on a couple of projects when I was still in New York City and picked up some gigs via my brother-in-law, Mark. Got to know her. Moved here and she was my first friend. She was a member of CultureHaus and on the board and sort of brought me in.

Chris Arnold: So CultureHaus is the young professionals branch of the Denver Art Museum. I'm not that young, but sort of fits. People in their twenties and thirties and that are interested in art and arts experiences. So CultureHaus produces a whole bunch of events in support of the Denver Art Museum every year. It's been an incredible way to meet a whole bunch of local artists and get to know them and people who are interested in art. And it's a wonderful organization.

Chris Arnold: And I would say that's, I think, how we met. We have a mutual friend Noah-

Bryant Palmer: That's right. Yeah. That's totally right.

Chris Arnold: ... who was with the CultureHaus. Yeah. That's really cool.

Bryant Palmer: And it's funny, I love this about Denver so much. It's a really collaborative place and even though it's a big city, it's small enough to make connections. When I lived in Manhattan for 20 years and I've tons of friends who were there, but you didn't meet people as easily or as readily as you do here. And I find that really exciting.

Chris Arnold: So I want to ask one final question here.

Bryant Palmer: please.

Chris Arnold: Who else? That's a big question. Who else should we be paying attention to that you feel like is doing inspiring, groundbreaking, fantastic work that we perhaps have not touched on?

Bryant Palmer: Sure. In cities in general. I mean, well, I might repeat myself a little bit. Charlie Miller runs Off-Center at DCPA. That guy's a creative genius. I feel honored to know him and to work with him. So, he's on my list for sure. There's a bunch of really great artists around town that I think are worth following. I'm meeting on Thursday with this guy, Thomas Evans. He goes by Detour 303. He painted a mural at Stanley in the early days.

Bryant Palmer: We, for a variety of reasons, realized we had to take down the wall where his mural was. So we figured out a way to save it, where he's going to come see it-

Chris Arnold: That's really cool.

Bryant Palmer: ... and check it out and see if he likes it. Oh man.

Chris Arnold: And I know it's such a hard question.

Bryant Palmer: I know, it's so hard. Can I tell you one thing though, one more? This is not a person, but is a city. So Stanley Marketplace is technically located in Aurora, Colorado. We're on the border of Denver, like the Denver/Aurora border runs through us. And I cannot say enough how forward thinking the city was in terms of helping put Stanley Marketplace together.

Bryant Palmer: Now that I'm working on projects in a variety of municipalities around the country, it is even clearer how progressive and thoughtful the folks over there at the city of Aurora were in terms of helping bring Stanley to life.

Chris Arnold: That's fantastic. So Brian, thanks so much for joining me today.

Bryant Palmer: You're welcome.

Chris Arnold: I would love it if you would tell the world, all the listeners what you're up to and specifically where they can find you online.

Bryant Palmer: Absolutely.

Chris Arnold: I know that you have quite a few things happening on the webpage.

Bryant Palmer: I've got a bunch, but I'll try to hone it down.

Chris Arnold: Let's do it.

Bryant Palmer: My company is, Oh Hey Creative and we're @O-H-H-E-Ycreative, all over the internet. I work on Stanley Marketplace, which is @ohheystanley and Broadway Market, Denver, which I think are also worth checking out. The other thing right now I'm most excited about that involves me is we're bringing the Sistine Chapel to The Hangar at Stanley this summer. It is a life-sized museum quality reproduction of the Sistine Chapel.

Chris Arnold: No way.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, it's crazy. I can't believe I haven't talked about it sooner. We just announced it last week, so it's pretty fresh, but we're transforming our event space into a Sistine Chapel. But you'll be able to see the works up close and personal. So, from a few feet away without an Italian security guard yelling at you.

Chris Arnold: There you go.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah, it's going to be amazing.

Chris Arnold: Well, let's definitely have a link to that in the show notes too so people can check out the Sistine Chapel.

Bryant Palmer: Please do. I'm @BBP3 and yeah, that's mostly it.

Chris Arnold: That's fantastic.

Bryant Palmer: I can keep going, man.

Chris Arnold: Well, we have a lot of great links here for the listeners. Bryant, thanks again for joining me tonight. It's been fantastic talking with you.

Bryant Palmer: Yeah my pleasure. Thank you very much. Nice chatting, man.

Chris Arnold: Thank you. Transforming Cities is brought to you by Authentic Form & Function, the digital design and development team that just might be a perfect fit for your next urban project.

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