Denver has an abundance of empty industrial-type buildings. Currently, city officials have plans to repurpose some into housing shelters and one into a youth center. Within the last decade, entrepreneurs have turned abandoned buildings into breweries and a number of multi-use marketplaces. Non Plus Ultra recently landed in Denver with the latest concept of turning abandoned spaces into hosts for immersive events.
Founded in San Francisco, Non Plus Ultra (NPU) is an immersive event planning company. NPU buys, restores and repurposes historic landmark buildings into event spaces. Denver is NPU’s second city.
Re-Imagined Open Space
When selecting venues to acquire and restore, NPU focuses on the intersection between economic viability and cultural vibrancy in a given neighborhood. NPU buildings hold space for a variety of special events, ranging from festivals and conferences to weddings. Their San Francisco portfolio includes major events like Diplo Street Festival, a Samsung Galaxy S10 pop up and the Direct TV & Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Party.
“NPU’s selection process starts by determining which cities and neighborhoods to join. Part of this is highly data-driven, based on demographic, psychographic and commercial econometrics. Part of it is entirely subjective, focusing on communities and the vibrancy of their culture. When it comes to venue selection we are looking above all else for properties that boast a unique architectural artistry and character,” said Jordan Langer, CEO of NPU.
At the moment, NPU has four Denver venues.
ReelWorks Denver was originally built as a tinsmith factory in 1945. Over the past few decades, it served as an entertainment venue under the name EXDO Event Center. In the last year, NPU acquired the RiNo warehouse and completed restoration projects.
Denver Rock Drill
Adjacent to RiNo Art District, Denver Rock Drill is a collection of historic warehouses. It’s NPU’s largest Denver venue with over 110,000 square feet of space. Built in 1910, Denver Rock Drill originally served as a factory for pneumatic rock drill assembly and global distribution. Today, it’s repurposed as a multi-building, multi-purpose campus. This includes retail, office space and NPU’s event space. RiNo is famous for multi-use spaces, so the Rock Drill fits right in.
Denver Sports Castle
Located on South Broadway, Denver Sports Castle underwent renovations to preserve its original Art-Deco design, complete with stained-glass windows. Originally built in the 1920’s as a Chrysler auto showroom, Gart Properties bought the building in 1970 and turned it into the Sports Castle Denver residents know and love today. The Sports Castle never fails to elicit an eccentric, quirky vibe 50 years later. The venue works well for accordingly eccentric events, or anyone looking to influence the mood with stained glass.
The Denver Post Printing Plant
Once home to print and distribution for Denver’s largest newspaper, The Denver Post, the Printing Plant facility was empty for several years after a contentious shut down. NPU hopes to revitalize the building’s former energy. Located in Globeville, the former printing and distribution center is back open. NPU’s restorations make the venue perfect for open space events such as concerts and festivals.
Non Plus Ultra works to revitalize empty, often abandoned buildings to enjoy a second life. Rather than completely renovate landmark buildings, NPU restores them to preserve historic integrity.
“NPU activates [historic] and architecturally significant properties that, in some instances, have fallen into disrepair. We invest a considerable amount in restoring these spaces and, where needed, improving safety. However, we do not alter a venue’s character or ‘sanitize’ its charm. We honor these venues by reopening their doors so that the present generation of community members can enjoy their magnificence and continue writing the history of the spaces,” Langer said.
Since launching in San Francisco, NPU continues to experience large success in preserving historical buildings and providing event planning services. However, it has also been the center of two controversies in the past 18 months. In 2020, police reported an unsanctioned homeless camp sweep conducted by NPU outside a San Francisco venue. In 2021, former employees filed a lawsuit against NPU, citing claims Langer said were “completely frivolous.” While the company has faced scrutiny, the founders look forward to continuing their mission in Denver.
NPU offers more than just space. Event planners have access to NPU’s services in permitting, catering, PR and in-house production.
You learn more about NPU’s unique venues and book an event space here.
Updated 3:10 pm, Sept. 28, 2021 For the purpose of transparency, this article was updated to include additional context regarding NPU’s history as a company.