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After weathering floods, and in the midst of a pandemic, Pasternack’s Art Hub got hit with another calamity on January 12: fire.

Scott Pasternack was busy at his Aurora pawnshop when he received a panicked call letting him know his Lakewood building was ablaze. “We’re going, ‘Why didn’t the fire department get called?'” he recalls.

Soon it was, and firefighters rushed to the property at 6851 West Colfax Avenue, putting out the flames that burned part of the exterior, leaving roughly $10,000 in damage but doing little to the interior. That’s where Next Gallery, Kanon Collective, Core New Art Space, Edge Gallery, Flourish Creative Spaces Gallery and a handful of artists exhibit and create work.

“All the artists are freaking out, of course,” Pasternack says. “We go from flood to something else to now a fire. I don’t understand this. It’s crazy.”

The fire was started by a homeless individual trying to keep warm. “There are a lot of homeless people in that whole area,” he says. “I don’t know if this is the best location for them to be. … I know the galleries are constantly telling them to move on. They’re starting fires, and that’s worse than anything.”

Pasternack, whose family owns a small pawnshop empire, turned the family’s Lakewood store into the Art Hub in 2017. The building has served as a landing pad for galleries priced out of Denver.

While he’s enjoyed working with artists, Pasternack says he also got tired of fielding calls from cranky tenants — some of them involving the floods of 2019. Hoping to live in an RV full-time and hit the road, he put the building on the market in August, with mixed emotions.

Gallery owners, some of whom had lost their spaces in Denver after their buildings sold, were unnerved by Pasternack’s decision to sell. At the time, he promised to look for a buyer who wanted to continue the Art Hub’s role as a cultural center and honor the gallery and artist leases.

But so far, Pasternack hasn’t found a buyer. “We’ve had a few people come look, but nobody that is ready to pull the trigger,” he says. “They want to get through the election to see what happens.”

Pasternack understands that; during this rough period, he’s been trying to coordinate civil discourse between his conservative and liberal friends, to mixed results. So he was looking forward to 2021.

“I thought this year we made it through without any floods,” he says. “Yeah, we had COVID. Thank God there were no floods. Now we’ve got a fire. What’s next, a blizzard?”

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