Last Thursday, Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) hosted Mayor Michael B. Hancock for a tour of our two properties in the Cole neighborhood: Tramway Nonprofit Center and Cole Train. During the tour, we also provided the Mayor with an update regarding ULC’s progress and future plans for ArtWay North, Race TOD, 303 ArtWay and the Metro Denver Impact Facility (MDIF).
ULC staff and Board of Directors welcomed the Mayor and additional members of the City to Tramway Nonprofit Center to discuss the partnership between the City of Denver and ULC. The mission of our partnership is to work together to create a broader impact to increase affordable options for both residents and mission minded organizations in Denver. To realize this mission, ULC stressed the importance of community land trusts (CLTs) as a mechanism for long-term affordability and permanent stewardship of the land. CLTs also protect the City of Denver’s investments via our 99-year renewable ground lease.
As ULC led the tour from Tramway to our adjacent Cole Train property, the neighboring Wyatt Academy Student Council surprised the tour participants. The students talked in detail about the initiatives they are focusing on to improve their school. Wyatt Academy is a K – 6 charter school located directly across the street from the Tramway Nonprofit Center. ULC has a first right on the property in order to ensure the building continues to provide critical community services in the Cole neighborhood.
During the first portion of our tour, ULC’s Vice President of Strategy and Communications updated the Mayor on our continued success with the Metro Denver Impact Facility (MDIF). MDIF is currently capitalized at $24.5 million with FirstBank as the senior lender and five junior lenders to date. As we continue to host conversations with the City and County of Denver regarding acquisitions made through the facility, we envision an excellent opportunity in the future for the City to join MDIF as an additional junior lending partner.
ULC’s Vice President of Master Site Development, Erin Clark also provided a detailed update on Race TOD, our six acre property in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood. The future development will contain an unprecedented number of affordable housing units, with 45 designated for households earning at or below 30% of the area median income (AMI). This was an accomplishment Mayor Hancock took particular notice of, as Denver is in desperate need of deeply affordable housing units targeting the lower AMI percentile. In 2018, 30% AMI for a single individual equated to an annual salary of $18,900. Many affordable housing units in the Denver market remain too expensive and out of reach for households earning less than 50% AMI.
Increasing urban density and proximity to public transit were qualities of ULC’s Race TOD that were praised by the Mayor. The development’s inclusion of Clinica Tepeyac – a nonprofit healthcare clinic providing health services to the medically underserved – provide an innovative solution to the lack of services available in the community by combining direct healthcare with affordable housing. Permanent stable housing is a key social determinant of health and merging healthcare services with affordable rental housing in the same property is an exciting achievement.
Erin Clark and Michael Miera, ULC’s Manager of Neighborhood Relations also introduced 303 ArtWay. Located in the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood, 303 ArtWay is a future 4 mile loop connecting the 40th and Colorado Transit Station to Holly Square. The pedestrian and bike friendly path will increase safety, connectivity and mobility for many NE Park Hill residents, while simultaneously celebrating the rich cultural history of the neighborhood. Together, Clark and Miera shared the many exciting updates of 303 ArtWay (including receiving two significant sources of grant funding in 2019), and discussed the possibility of a small section of city-owned property becoming a part of the trail.
Clark also discussed the exciting new direction for Artway North, a parcel of land ULC owns near the 40th and Colorado Station. ULC acquired the property (formerly known as Park Hill Village West) in 2013, and later partnered with Delwest to construct 156 units of affordable housing. Future development plans for the remaining 6+ acres of land is underway.
ULC is excited to continue our trusted partnership with the City, and would like to thank Mayor Hancock, ULC’s Board of Directors and representatives from the City for joining ULC in our property tour. We enjoyed discussing future opportunities for partnership, and the many visions and goals we share.