By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) — Three vacant properties in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood have been transformed into a vibrant interactive experience, with new opportunities for artists and small business owners. The homes near 44th and Tennyson Street have been vacant for years. In partnership with local Denver real estate startup Reactiv, The Wana Art House Project is creating jobs for local creative.

“By participating as a lead sponsor on the Art House Project, we’re providing jobs and support for local artists and creative entrepreneurs while also giving back and creating a fun, socially-distanced experience for the community. Supporting our community truly is an essential service in these challenging times,” said Wana CEO Nancy Whiteman. 

Brands like Wana were able to keep selling during the pandemic. Executives say this sponsorship is their way of giving back to businesses that weren’t deemed essential. 

“Wana has a duty, as a corporate citizen, to help support the rest of the community that maybe weren’t designated as essential,” said Joe Hodas, CMO of Wana. 

The Wana Art House Project is made up of three properties. A Beach House with an immersive experience, an Art House that features performances as you walk through. Alexandrea Pangburn, founder of Babe Walls, led the effort to transform the Wana Art House into a four-sided mural. The third building, the Wana Club House, is being used to display retail and art.

“We have two different antique dealers that have taken over the and styled them in their own way. We have an artist that used the front room as a gallery space,” explained Tim Sack, Reactiv Activation Director.

Liz Taylor, owner of Black Tiger Market, uses the upstairs bedroom and front yard of the Clubhouse for a pop-up store.  

“I love that there’s this mix of people who come from off the street. The fact that is a collective of so many great organizations really adds to the experience,” said Taylor. “Compared to the price of getting booths for just for a weekend, and the rent prices around here, this is very affordable,” said Taylor. “We don’t have a brick and mortar but we’re so fortunate that we’ve been able to have a pop up location here.”

There are also backyard areas with tables, games and stages that small groups can rent out for events. Artists and business owners interested can book space online at reactiv.io.

The Wana Art House Project opens to the public on Thursday, July 30, and runs through August 22. For more information, visit wanabrands.com.

Tori Mason

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