ULC’s Community Land Trust

How does ULC ensure permanent affordability of real estate?

ULC has created a non-traditional community land trust approach to real estate investment and development. We invest in the land, and sell the improvements or development rights for long-term community benefit. The ULC land lease is in place for 99 years, with an automatic 99-year renewal for a total of 198 years of land control. Use of a land lease preserves permanent affordability for nonprofits and other mission-minded organizations, affordable housing, schools, and community centers.

Stewardship: Affordable Housing, Community-Serving Space, and Schools

Jody Apartments and Sheridan Station | Villa Park Neighborhood

  • ULC purchased two acres of land under the Jody Apartments.
  • NEWSED purchased the 62 affordable housing units and made improvements to preserve long-term affordability.
  • ULC secured three acres adjacent to the Jody Apartments, known as Sheridan Station, for future affordable housing and community-serving space.
  • ULC and RTD finalized a property acquisition at Sheridan Station that was awarded 4% tax credits towards 133 affordable apartments.
  • In partnership with Brinshore and Mile High Development, Sheridan Station Apartments opened for occupancy in January 2021.

Holly Square | Northeast Park Hill Neighborhood

  • ULC purchased 2.6 acres of land, formerly the Holly Shopping Center.
  • ULC engaged in a community-led process with the Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP), to guide future redevelopment.
  • The Boys & Girls Club of Denver signed a long-term land lease with ULC to construct the Nancy P. Anschutz Community Center.
  • Roots Elementary School built and moved into its building on the west side of the property with a 99-year land-lease.
  • Roots Elementary School closed, and ULC purchased the building and engaged the community in the process of selecting a new organization for the space.
  • The Center for African American Health (CAAH) moved into the building.
  • CAAH purchased the building from ULC in 2021.

Curtis Park Community Center & Family Star Montessori School | Five Points Neighborhood

  • ULC purchased the Curtis Park Community Center and completed $1.5 million in improvements.
  • Family Star Montessori signed a long-term lease with ULC for the space.
  • Family Star Montessori purchased the school building from ULC with a 99-year ground lease.

Walnut Flats | Five Points Neighborhood

  • ULC acquired 1.5 acres of land along RTD’s A Line commuter rail at Blake Street Station.
  • ULC incorporated a 99-year ground lease with Medici Consulting Group (MCG) on a portion of the land.
  • MCG constructed and opened Walnut Flats, 66 units of permanently affordable housing.

Cole Train | Cole Neighborhood

  • ULC demolished the vacant warehouse adjacent to the Tramway Nonprofit Center with the intention of developing permanently affordable housing.
Coming Soon
  • ULC will sell the development rights to a partner for construction of affordable housing and community-serving commercial space.

48th & Race | Elyria-Swansea Neighborhood

  • ULC purchased land near RTD’s 48th & Brighton N Line commuter rail station.
  • ULC partnered with Columbia Ventures to develop 150 permanently affordable apartments and community-serving space including Tepeyac Community Health Center, all in a 99-year land lease.
  • Viña Apartments opened for occupancy
  • Tepeyac Community Health Center moved into this location

Thriftway Pocket Park | Westwood Neighborhood

  • ULC acquired the old Thriftway site.
  • With funding from Denver Office of Economic Development, ULC demolished the vacant Thriftway building on the site due to the community’s expressed safety concerns.
  • ULC celebrated the opening of the Thriftway Pocket Park as an interim use for the site. Long-term plans for the site are to create a beneficial development that directly addresses community needs.

Mile High Vista | West Colfax Neighborhood

  • ULC acquired Mile High Vista, 2+ acres of land on a high-frequency bus line.
  • ULC enlisted Del Norte to develop Avondale Apartments, 80 affordable apartments on the site.
  • ULC engaged the City and County of Denver and supported the city’s development of the Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch Library.
  • The final phase of the development, The Irving at Mile High, has been approved for 4% low income housing tax credits. The future development will provide up to permanently affordable apartments.

Mosaic Community Campus | South Park Hill Neighborhood

  • ULC acquired the 25-acre campus for $62 million in partnership with Denver Public Schools and Denver Housing Authority, to be used for community-serving purposes. ULC owns the east campus, now the site of St. Elizabeth’s School and Kitchen Network.
  • Archway Communities is renovating its four former dorms on the east campus to create 154 permanently affordable apartments. The land under the dorms is held in a 99-year ground lease with ULC.

Re:Vision | Westwood Neighborhood

  • Through a mutual agreement, Re:Vision keeps ownership of its buildings while the land is secured by ULC for long-term community-serving affordable uses. This arrangement enables Re:Vision to strengthen its sustainability while continuing its community development work. Re:Vision has enlisted ULC to develop permanently affordable housing on a portion of the site.
Re Vision cultural center in Denver

South Platte Crossing | Commerce City, CO

  • ULC acquired the 4.5-acre site in partnership with Adams County.
  • The office building on the site houses nonprofit organizations as well as municipal services.
  • One acre of the site received low income housing tax credits and will be developed into 60 permanently affordable apartments in partnership with Nesbitt Development and Brinshore Development.
  • Construction on the South Platte Crossing Apartments began in early 2024.

New Legacy Charter School | Aurora, CO

  • ULC purchased 23,000 square feet of land, formerly a bowling alley.
  • ULC demolished the existing structure and began construction of high school and child care facility, which opened for the 2014-2015 school year.
  • New Legacy Charter School purchased the building; ULC retains the land in a 99-year land lease.

Oxford Vista | Aurora, CO

  • ULC took ownership of the former Excelsior Youth Center. The 31-acre campus was donated to ULC, with 17 buildings totaling 148,000 square feet of space.
  • ULC implemented a $3.3-million energy-efficiency upgrade project, including a 430-kW solar array and a geothermal heating and cooling system to serve the portion of the campus occupied by AmeriCorps NCCC.
  • Future campus development will include permanently affordable housing, all held in a 99-year ground lease.

ColfaxLab for Social Good | Aurora, CO

  • ULC purchased the former Citywide Banks Building.
  • In collaboration with the Fax Partnership, ULC worked with a community-based steering committee to guide the redevelopment process.
  • The large building is a community-serving space for nonprofits. The parking area will be redeveloped into permanently affordable housing.

Loretto Heights | Harvey Park Neighborhood

  • In 2022, the local nonprofit Commún approached ULC about buying Machebeuf Hall at Loretto Heights, to be used as a community center and hub for Commún’s varied programs. ULC purchased Machebeuf Hall and the nearby Arts Building in October 2022.
  • As soon as ULC acquired the broader property from Westside, Commún took control of Machebeuf Hall through a multi-year lease, and in October 2023 Commún purchased the building from ULC. The land beneath the building remains in ULC’s community land trust, ensuring the property delivers a community-serving use for 99 years or more.
  • ULC plans to partner with an affordable housing developer to redevelop the Arts Building site into permanently affordable housing. Any new housing would also be placed in ULC’s community land trust, ensuring long-term affordability for all future residents.

Elevation Community Land Trust

ULC incubated Elevation Community Land Trust (ECLT), which was launched in 2017 to create a statewide community land trust providing affordable homeownership. ECLT began operating as an independent entity in 2021. ULC and ECLT have partnered on several efforts, including:

  • La Tela in Denver’s La Alma / Lincoln Park neighborhood — 92  new, permanently affordable for-sale condominiums, which opened in 2021.
  • The Burrell in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood, with land ULC purchased in 2020 for the development of these 49 permanently affordable condos.
  • ULC received a donation of 30 acres of land in Fort Collins in 2020 for future mixed use development, including affordable for-sale housing through ECLT.