On behalf of Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), we hope you experienced a Happy Earth Day. One day each year in April, individuals across the globe take time to reflect on the importance of protecting and celebrating the place we all call home. ULC recognizes the importance of being proactive as it relates to environmental stewardship, which is why we advocate strongly for urban infill developments to create livable, walkable and sustainable communities across the Greater Denver Region. One such development broke ground on Earth Day, and will provide affordable housing to low-income residents next to a rail station along a major transit corridor.
On Monday morning, ULC, Mile High Development (MHD) and Brinshore Development broke ground on the Sheridan Station Apartments – a development of 133 affordable rental units dedicated for households earning up to 60% of the area median income (AMI). The groundbreaking was a testament to the power of private and public sectors working together to deliver affordable transit-oriented development to Metro Denver residents. The development is located directly adjacent to the Sheridan light rail station and will include one, two and three-bedroom units, providing affordability for both individuals and families.
ULC acquired the Sheridan Station site in 2014 in an effort to preserve the future development of critical affordable housing with immediate access to public transit. In 2017, the development was awarded $1.3 million in federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and $1.6 million in state tax credits from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA). The foresight of ULC’s Real Estate team to land bank the property when prices were attainable made this development financially feasible. The Sheridan Station Apartments will join a growing list of properties in ULC’s community land trust (CLT) to ensure the property remains permanently affordable for future generations. The land beneath this new development is in ULC’s ownership through a 99 year renewable ground lease.
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock graciously took a break from the campaign trail to be a keynote speaker for the groundbreaking. Mayor Hancock emphasized how emblematic the Sheridan Station Apartments are for the City’s transit-oriented development goals.
“We’re exactly where we need to be when it comes to affordable housing,” said Mayor Hancock during the groundbreaking ceremony. “When we can blend access to transit and affordable housing, now we’re getting it, now we’re making waves to improve the quality of life for the residents of Denver.”
And that wave of affordability is going to continue, as Mayor Hancock noted. According to the Mayor, there are currently 1,273 City-funded affordable housing units under construction at 14 different sites in Denver. These affordable units are a part of the City’s investment of $50 million (pledged in the 2018 through the City’s Affordable Housing Fund) towards the preservation and development of affordable housing. The City announced a commitment of an additional $60 million from the Fund in 2019. This investment is a powerful statement by the City of Denver and will go a long way towards preserving and creating critical affordability throughout the City.
While the City has made significant efforts to increase Denver’s affordable housing inventory through a dedicated funding stream, the same needs to be done on a statewide level. Colorado is one of the last remaining states without a dedicated source of funding for affordable housing, although it is one of the top 10 states experiencing rapid population growth. According to recent HUD data, more than 200,000 households in Colorado are severely cost burdened – meaning they spend more than 50% of their annual income on housing. In order to adjust these inequalities, Colorado desperately needs a statewide revenue source. ULC is in strong support of House Bill 1245, which would cap the vendor fee collected on Colorado State Sales Tax with the potential to produce $50 million per year for affordable housing.
Aaron Miripol, ULC’s President and CEO, spoke towards the importance of partnerships to ensure developments like these are possible, as well as 99 year ground leases (through a CLT) to guarantee permanent affordability. Miripol also highlighted how the long-term ground lease is core to ULC’s values around land stewardship, ensuring that whatever happens at the Sheridan Station site in the future will have a community benefit.
Miripol also took time to thank our friends at New West Side Economic Development (NEWSED), a community development corporation focused on solving the long-term economic issues facing disadvantaged communities. NEWSED approached ULC in 2007 to support the acquisition of the Jody Apartments, 62 units of affordable housing directly adjacent to the future home of the Sheridan Station Apartments. Today, NEWSED owns and operates the apartment complex, while ULC owns the land underneath in our CLT, the same mechanism for long-term stewardship we are using for the Sheridan Station Apartments.
Additional speakers during the event included George Thorn of Mile High Development, Cris White of CHFA, Doug Tisdale of RTD, David Brint of Brinshore Development and Alison George of the Division of Housing (DOH). Mrs. George’s remarks highlighted the inception of the TOD Fund back in 2010, and how that Fund has brought mobility to the residents of Denver.
“It’s not just about economic mobility, but it’s also about physical mobility and the TOD Fund provided that opportunity for many people,” George said during the event. “I’m so proud of the commitment the State has in this property, because it’s not just the TOD Fund, it’s not just the $1.3 million in federal home funds, it’s also our 811 vouchers. We have eight vouchers committed to this site to support individuals with disabilities, so everyone here has that freedom of mobility by being so close to a transit site.”
ULC would like to thank our many partners that played a key role in making this incredible, transit oriented development a reality: Mile High Development, Brinshore Development, Alliance Construction Solutions, Denver Housing Authority (DHA), RTD, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), Colorado Division of Housing (DOH), The Denver Economic Development & Opportunity Office (DEDO), U.S. Bank, Freddie Mac, NorthMarq Capital and Johnson Nathan Strohe for designing the future apartments. ULC is grateful for the tireless work of our dedicated development partners and we are thrilled to bring additional affordable housing to this transit corridor connecting the central and western region.
Sheridan Station Apartments in the news: