Sanders opens downtown Gold Room

After much talk, speculation and renovation, Colorado Springs businessman Perry Sanders has opened his new entertainment venue in the historic former home of Colorado Springs Utilities, adjacent to the Mining Exchange Hotel.

The Gold Room, housed within the 27,500-square-foot art deco building at 18 N. Nevada Ave., has hosted two weddings since partially opening for business June 21.

True to the building’s classic 1933 design, the 6,500-square-foot venue was retrofitted with a stage (formerly the Utilities teller station) and a 270-degree mezzanine balcony with gold railings repurposed from nearby window ledges.

“The concept is that it will be a fabulous live sound stage that will have everything from comedy to live music,” Sanders said. “We’re going to try to turn this into the pre-eminent singer-songwriter place literally in the world if we can attract enough talent, which I think we can.”

The owner imagines his 351-person-capacity venue as an attraction for performers from the Front Range and beyond.

“We want this to become a destination for this part of the world that is very rich and dominated by typically intelligent people who have written the things that are the soundtracks to our lives,” Sanders said.

Sanders compares the Gold Room’s aesthetics and audio-visual capabilities to a miniature version of Harlem’s Apollo Theatre and to Denver’s Bluebird Theater.

“I have been blessed in the past 40 years to play all over the world, and this is one of the most intimate and cool venues I have ever seen,” said Thomas Dawson, former keyboard player for the Commodores and member of the Mining Exchange’s house band.

But although Sanders has lofty aspirations for the venue, he said the Gold Room will remain an intimate showplace for both artists and audiences.

Getting back to the traditional aesthetics of the building, Sanders had the plaster moldings painted the same tone of gold, and the space’s two bars were fitted with Brazilian wood stone, heavy with tones to tie in with the style and history of one of Colorado Springs’ most iconic pieces of architecture from the period.

“The basic bones of this fabulous room have really been here all along — since 1933,” Sanders said. “It turns out that there was exactly the right amount of stuff that we were able to take and repurpose.”

“This is one of the most intimate and cool venues I have ever seen.” 

– Thomas Dawson

The walls of the Gold Room are being populated by the works of artists such as Eddie Mormon, a Louisiana-based painter whom Sanders commissioned to outfit the Mining Exchange and Springs Orleans, and Colorado Springs resident Phil Lear, whose eye-catching portraits of Nikola Tesla and Louis Armstrong hang prominently in the hotel.

In preparing to open the building’s various spaces, Sanders purchased a slew of furniture including several pieces from auctions at The Broadmoor.

Sanders said the kitchen, around the same size and with similar capabilities as Springs Orleans — the in-house Cajun restaurant — will begin by offering a “simple serve” menu.

At first, there will be flow in staff between the two properties, but Sanders said he expects the company will eventually hire between 50-75 employees for the entire property.

The building will include a few other sweet spots: a yet-to-open second-floor private club, a Green Room and preparation area in the basement for performers (outfitted with editing bays and such) and 5-10 luxury suites on the building’s third floor.

A large number of people have already signed up for the Mining Exchange Club, to which there will be no public access, Sanders said. Earlier plans to house Sanders’ law offices on the building’s third floor were scrapped for the plan to develop the additional guest rooms.

Eventually, Sanders plans to construct a skybridge adjoining the Independence Building, which houses Springs Orleans, and the Gold Room building for access to the new suites.

Sanders declined to discuss financial details of the building’s sale and buildout, but told the Business Journal in January that the “renovation has already cost hundreds of thousands.”

Ownership of the CSU building is still under the Colorado Springs-based Kameron Family Trust, which purchased the property in 2006 and proceeded with asbestos abatement before Sanders took control of the property five years ago. Currently on a lease option, Sanders said he plans to have the sale of the building completed by the beginning of next year.

“We intend on wrapping up the renovation and then we’ll actually purchase the building from the current owner,” he said, adding that it is part of a predetermined deal. nCSBJ