Successful Stewardship: ULC Community Land Trust
“I developed my understanding of the value of land conservation early on in the open lands conservation movement, and broadened my focus from open lands to urban lands. That sensibility converged with my work to strengthen our urban communities where our most underserved children and families live.”
– Sam Gary, Founding ULC Board Member
ULC has been incorporating the Community Land Trust (CLT) model into our real estate investments for the last 10 years, and we are now researching how to use a CLT to mitigate and further prevent involuntary displacement of Denver’s vulnerable communities. Burlington Associates, a national consulting cooperative founded in 1993 to support CLTs, completed a feasibility study and business plan for Urban Land Conservancy in August 2017. You can find the link to the “Feasibility Study and Business Plan for a Proposed Community Land Trust Program Serving Denver’s Globeville, Elyria and Swansea Neighborhoods here.
Jody Apartments | Villa Park Neighborhood
ULC’s first CLT investment was the purchase of land under the Jody Apartments. ULC purchased the 2 acres of land and NEWSED bought the improvements consisting of 62 apartments in four rental buildings. This transaction was the first ground lease executed by ULC, and Colorado’s first multi-family CLT. The terms include NEWSED leasing the land from ULC for 99 years to assure long term public benefit.
Holly Square | Northeast Park Hill, Boys and Girls Club & Roots Elementary
Holly Square houses the Nancy P. Anschutz Center; home of the Jack A. Vickers Boys & Girls Club as well as Roots Elementary, a new school using a radical new approach to time, talent and technology to create custom learning experiences. Both buildings, constructed in 2013 and 2016 respectively, have 99-year land leases in place with ULC. These assets, which represent the vision of the community, will be preserved for 99 years in a neighborhood facing increasing challenges regarding affordability.
Curtis Park Community Center & Family Star Montessori School Five Points Neighborhood
In 2017, Family Star Montessori purchased the school building from ULC and the land lease commenced upon the successful closing. ULC will own the ground for 99 years, and continues to own the adjacent Curtis Park Nonprofit Center building which houses the school’s administrative operations.
“Community Land Trusts are an innovative model for community-led development that rearranges relations of property and power in the place of residence. The foundation for a CLT as well as for other nonprofit developers that operate in a similar fashion, is common ground: community owned land that is never re-sold, but put to productive use through long-term ground leasing.There are difficulties involved in doing affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization this way, which dissuade many from trying it, but common ground has operational, ethical, economic, and political ad-vantages all its own. It may be harder to do, but the extra effort is worth it”
– John Emmeus Davis, Common Ground Community Led Development on Community Owned Land
Addressing Displacement in Denver Through Community Land Trust Solutions
ULC hosted the historic premier of Arc of Justice, a documentary focused on the origin of the Community Land Trust movement on May 20, 2016. Guests gathered to watch the 20-minute documentary with hopes of spurring new movement as the Denver region is continuously working on ways to address the severe lack of permanently affordable housing.
Arc of Justice, part of the Streets of Dreams series, traces the rise, fall and rebirth of the first modern community land trust that was established in 1970 in Southwest Georgia.
Created out of the drive for economic self-sufficiency that developed within the Civil Rights Movement, New Communities, Inc. (NCI) was the largest black-owned land holding in the US at that time – nearly 6000 acres – and came under fierce attack by the white, Jim Crow establishment.
Arc of Justice includes interviews with Charles and Shirley Sherrod who were the founders of New Communities, and with Congressman John Lewis who was a key figure in helping to launch the land trust. All three are iconic civil rights leaders who speak eloquently and movingly about the importance of land ownership for African American families and the enormous obstacles they had to overcome to keep their dream alive.
In 1985, New Communities lost its land to foreclosure due to years of devastating drought and the discriminatory lending practices of the Farmers Home Administration. Twelve years after NCI’s tragic loss of its land, 400 black farmers filed a class action lawsuit against the US Dept. of Agriculture. In 2010, these farmers won the largest civil rights settlement in history and, with its portion of the payout, New Communities was reborn with the purchase of a 1,600 acre plantation about 30 miles from the original farm. This plantation had been established by one of the largest slaveholders in Georgia and will be dedicated to promoting racial healing and economic opportunity. Renamed Resora, it celebrated its grand opening in June 2014 which marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter. Arc of Justice captures this remarkable story and sheds light on an important yet little known part of land trust, racial justice and civil rights history.