How ULC supported Denver’s effort to house 1,000
ULC stepped into new territory in 2023 to support our unhoused neighbors
In 2023 Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) contributed to Denver’s “House1000” initiative, supporting the purchase of two hotels that today house more than 500 formerly unsheltered individuals, including children.
With an understanding that the Denver metro area — like other cities nationwide — is experiencing an unprecedented homelessness crisis, ULC saw ways to lend its financial support and real estate expertise to be part of the solution.
Supporting Rocky Mountain Communities in the Central Park neighborhood
In November 2023, ULC supported Rocky Mountain Communities’ (RMC) $39 million purchase of the former DoubleTree Hotel on north Quebec St. by making a $4.5 million low-interest loan to RMC. RMC is an affordable-housing nonprofit that now leases the property to the City and County of Denver for sheltering with wraparound services; the city has the option to purchase the hotel within a year.
Finding a Place for Families in the Hampden neighborhood
Around the same time, ULC moved quickly to get the Embassy Suites hotel on E. Hampden Avenue under contract, later stepping aside so the City and County of Denver could purchase the hotel.
When the Embassy Suites hotel was listed for sale, ULC saw the potential to convert its unique one-bedroom units into permanently-affordable apartments, to address the need for affordable housing in south Denver.
Understanding the city’s urgent need for shelter space for families, ULC contacted the city to suggest the building as bridge housing in the interim, prior to redevelopment.
ULC put an offer on the property and went under contract with the Embassy Suites for $21 million, undertaking standard due diligence like appraisals, inspections and title review. Ultimately, the city asked to take over as buyer to better meet its needs for short-term sheltering.
In December 2023, Denver City Council approved the city’s purchase, which included assigning the sale contract from ULC to the city. While ULC has no tie to the Embassy Suites today, it is our hope that the building has a future as long-term affordable housing to continue serving community needs.
ULC’s Mission Expands to Meet the Moment
Urban Land Conservancy has worked for 20 years to deliver permanent real estate affordability in Denver area communities. That has most often been via low-cost commercial spaces for nonprofits, and affordable rental housing — not sheltering for the unhoused. However, ULC did work closely with a forward-thinking group of advocates several years ago to advance a new concept for Denver for safe, independent sheltering for the unhoused.
In 2017, ULC offered its land at 38th and Blake streets in Five Points to be the first location of the Beloved Community Tiny Home Village, with 11 homes, gardens, a shared shower house and staffing support. Today, that land is the site of Walnut Flats, an apartment building in ULC’s community land trust offering 66 permanently affordable apartments to current and future residents.
ULC sees a future where underserved populations are able to live and thrive within vibrant, diverse neighborhoods — neighborhoods that have the assets and resources necessary for quality of life. We applaud the City and County of Denver’s effort in 2023 to house so many Denverites, and we will continue our work to advance housing solutions across the Front Range.