Wheat Ridge Makerspace Largest on Front Range

BEFORE THE CLEAR CREEK MAKERSPACE opened on March 30, work on the “Fab Lab” with new work tables, 3D printer assembly and painting was in progress. Photo courtesy of Clear Creek Makerspace. PHOTO COURTESY OF CLEAR CREEK MAKERSPACE

If you have a hobby, a creative or business idea and need a place to make it happen in Wheat Ridge, the Clear Creek Makerspace is now open.

Localworks, a nonprofit organization focused on the city’s economic development, launched what might be its most visible project yet with a March 30 grand opening of the makerspace at 44th Avenue and Field Street 

Makerspace Program Manager Tyler Kerr, who has helped build and operate makerspaces in 25 Wyoming communities, said a “small army of volunteers” helped prepare the building.

“We’ve had wood and metal workers, crafters and just a lot of people helping,” Kerr said.

The 7,500-square-foot space was designed as a membership-based community workshop and launchpad for innovation and entrepreneurship, according to Localworks. Workshops will include wood- and metalworking, electronics, textiles and general tools, with over 300 machines and tools available. 

The makerspace offers a range of options for residents, families, small businesses, corporations, etc. Monthly costs range from $30 to $180 and higher. Yearly memberships, group and family discounts, scholarships, grants, and a sliding scale membership are also available.

Kerr said the makerspace is one of the largest such facilities on the Front Range.

“It’s professionally run with a full-time staff,” he added. “That’s kind of unique for a makerspace, which usually relies a lot on volunteers.”

According to Executive Director Paige Piper, Localworks staff members will allocate some of their time to the makerspace.

Kerr said membership perks will also encourage the facility’s use, such as discounts at local businesses and boot camps.

“We want to help people connect the dots to explore whatever their hobbies might be and maybe start a new business,” he stated, similar to a small business incubator program. That’s also a rarity for makerspace programs, Kerr added.

Piper said the makerspace was identified as a community need in a 2020 city ArtSpace feasibility study. A donation of around $50,000 worth of equipment by Milly Ladler in 2022 got the project moving forward, she added.

Initially housed in the Wheat Ridge Methodist Church, the program offered 3D printers and held some classes but the need for more space soon surfaced, Piper said.

A lease agreement with the city in March 2023 allowed the use of the former parks and recreation building, which Localworks began renovating in December 2023. It also previously housed the Copa Cabana night club and a teen center.

“We plan to offer so many different things in the makerspace” to help make Wheat Ridge a more vibrant and sustainable community, Piper said.

Melinda Valentini, founder and chief experience officer at Sweet Ridge Studios in Wheat Ridge, said a three-day Makerspace Magic Summer Art Camp for students 11 years and older is planned in August. Students will print a 3D object, design and laser cut key rings, fashion a leather name tag and build wood sculptures using basic hand tools.

 “They will expand their tool and skill knowledge, learn new ways to apply imagination in the creation process and gain exposure to potential future vocational endeavors,” Valentini wrote in an email. “Our goal in our first year and a half is to serve around 250 people from Wheat Ridge, Jefferson County and anywhere else,” Piper said. “We hope everyone will feel welcome to come in and see what it’s all about.”

THE FLOOR PLAN FOR THE 7,500-SQUARE-FOOT CLEAR CREEK MAKERSPACE IN WHEAT Ridge shows the locations of the various workshops now available to the public. PHOTO COURTESY OF CLEAR CREEK MAKERSPACE

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