Through the acquisition, development, and preservation of real estate in urban areas, ULC works with communities to provide needed community assets such as schools, affordable housing, community centers, and nonprofit facility space. We use the following tools to accomplish our goals.

Community Land Trust Model (CLT)

ULC recognizes that creating affordable space alone is not enough. This is why we focus on the development of permanently affordable space through the community land trust (CLT) model. ULC’s unique CLT means we own the land under a 99-year ground lease to ensure the space is used for community benefit regardless of circumstance. To date, ULC has 8 properties in our CLT, ranging from early childhood education centers to multifamily affordable housing developments.

CLT Properties

Jody Apartments | Villa Park Neighborhood

Holly Square | Northeast Park Hill, Boys and Girls Club & Roots Elementary

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

Walnut Street Lofts | Cole Neighborhood

Inca Commons | Santa Fe Arts District

Holly Park | Westminster

A smiling tenant outside of the Jody Apartments, an affordable housing development in Metro Denver
A tenant outside of the Jody Apartments in Denver's Villa Park neighborhood.
Roots Elementary school at ULC property Holly Park in Westminster, CO
Roots Elementary is part of the 99 year ground lease held by Urban Land Conservancy to ensure long term affordability.

Elevation Community Land Trust

To help address the need for affordable for-sale housing in the Metro area, ULC partnered with a collaborative of philanthropic funders who announced in December 2017 their plans to catalyze nearly $25 million in private investment to launch Elevation Community Land Trust (ECLT). ULC incubated for three years, from 2018 through 2021, when the organization became its own 501(c)3 community land trust organization with independent leadership, staff, and a governing board that includes homeowners, community members, public interest representatives, and members of the funder collaborative. ULC continues to collaborate with ECLT on mixed development and master sites. Learn more here.

Denver Transit-Oriented Development Fund (TOD)

ULC, Enterprise Community Partners, and the City and County of Denver partnered to establish the nation’s first Transit Oriented Development Fund. The revolving loan fund makes capital available to acquire and hold land for the development or preservation of affordable housing for up to five years along current and proposed transit corridors.

The TOD Fund was created to develop and preserve 1,000 affordable homes along current and future transit corridors in the Denver area. Sites purchased through the Fund are within one-half mile of fixed-rail transit stations or one-quarter mile of high-frequency bus stops.

Urban Land Conservancy made the initial equity commitment of $1.5 million to the TOD Fund and led real estate acquisition, management, and disposition of the assets at the Fund’s onset.

To date, ULC has invested in eight properties through the TOD fund. Learn more here.

Calvert Facility Fund

Under the name Ours to Own, the Calvert Impact Fund focused on preserving real estate in urban centers for schools, community spaces, and affordable commercial space for nonprofits. $5.1 million was raised from hundreds of individual investors in the Denver region in the first two years of Ours to Own. In addition to small individual investments, the Fund received investment from the Piton Foundation, Gary Community Investments, Colorado Health Foundation, The Colorado Trust, and The Denver Foundation. In 2014, ULC partnered with Calvert Impact Capital to deploy $10 million of the low-interest source of capital fund towards the purchase of three real-estate assets that support over 20 nonprofit organizations. Learn more here. 

Metro Denver Impact Facility (MDIF)

This revolving loan capital facility was established by Urban Land Conservancy with lending partners, FirstBank, The Colorado Health Foundation, The Colorado Trust, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Gates Family Foundation, The Piton Foundation, and The Denver Foundation. FirstBank committed $25 million to the Facility and CHF was the first lending partner, contributing $2 million. FirstBank’s investment acts as Senior Debt, and the bank manages MDIF locally, underwriting each deal and evaluating the need for additional project financing to address capital needs. ULC is the sole borrower of the Facility, responsible for creating the development plan and permanent financing structure. ULC also manages the disposition of these properties and retains ownership interest as part of a Community Land Trust (CLT) through a 99-year ground lease. Learn more here. 

Community-Informed Stewardship

As stewards of real estate investments that profoundly impact the quality of life of many underserved and low-income Metro area residents, ULC is informed by a broad network of community partners. Our work in the neighborhoods in which we served is guided by underlying principles that fall under our community engagement philosophy. Learn more here.

The Origins of Community Land Trusts

ULC was a sponsor of Arc of Justice. Premiering in 2016, the 20-minute documentary is part of the Streets of Dreams series and focuses on the origin of the Community Land Trust movement tracing the rise, fall, and rebirth of the first modern community land trust that was established in 1970 in Southwest Georgia.

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. Learn more here.