Happy Holidays Urban Land Conservancy Partners,
As we look back on a very busy and incredibly successful 2012, ULC is again honored to be a part of the diverse partnerships that allow us to continue achieving our mission and accomplish the goals set forth by our Board. This year ULC has continued to invest in real estate that will truly impact the surrounding community and beyond. Our focus has not only centered around transit oriented development (TOD), but we have made significant real estate investment in neighborhoods in order to create stronger and economically vibrant areas.
After 5 years of ownership, ULC sold 40th and Colorado “Gateway” to Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) in January 2012. CCH is moving forward on redeveloping the existing transitional housing into a larger mixed use development and we are proud to support their redevelopment efforts at this important NE Denver site.
January continued to be eventful with the purchase from the American Baptist Church of the Curtis Park Community Center and the adjacent historic building which is now the Curtis Park Nonprofit Center. With support from the City of Denver Office of Economic Development, ULC acquired this important property to become the new home of Family Star Montessori School and the Denver Shared Space Project. After 9 months of work and $1.2 million of renovations, both buildings officially opened this month. This property will once again bring life to the area after sitting vacant for 4 years, and ULC is proud to be a part of this new educational resource and house nonprofits who will provide valuable services for area residents. Much thanks to the folks at American Baptist who patiently worked with us to support our mission
Spring began with the sale of 3 TOD sites to our development partners. In April ULC sold the affordable housing parcel at Mile High Vista to Del Norte who plans to begin construction in January 2013 on 80 work force homes with commercial space to be used for nonprofit offices and child care. ULC acted as master developer at this 2+ acre site, bringing not only a housing development to this TOD, but also a new Denver Public Library. The City of Denver purchased the library site in May, and recently began construction after ULC completed $1.5million of remediation and infrastructure work for the entire property development. Mile High Vista is the ideal TOD site, providing a wide range of community benefits and helping catalyze the West Colfax corridor. Next steps include the development of the remaining ½ acre commercial pad.
Less than a year after acquiring, ULC sold the Evans Station property to Medici Communities in May. Construction is currently underway on 50 affordable apartments and 7,100 square feet of office/commercial space, tenants will begin taking residence in early Summer 2013. The development provides crucial housing near public transit as well as spurring economic development in Denver’s Overland Park neighborhood.
In July, ULC closed on one acre of land at 11th & Sheridan, one block east of the Jody Apartments at Sheridan Station on the West Line of FasTracks. In partnership with Rocky Mountain Communities, this site will be redeveloped into 58 affordable senior homes within the next two years. Senior housing at transit sites is a critical need, and Rocky Mountain Communities is an excellent partner to create this real estate asset.
Holly Square continues to be the heart of northeast Park Hill with ongoing community investment and engagement. 2012 brought big news to the site with the announcement of funding to construct a new Boys & Girls Club. In order to support ULC’s mission of preserving community assets, Boys & Girls Club agreed to a 99 year land lease to ensure that the site will benefit the community for the long term. This was a very telling step in the process of revitalizing Holly Square, and our partners recognizing the commitment ULC has to redeveloping the site into something the neighborhood will value for generations. The Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP), The Denver Foundation’s Strengthening Neighborhoods program, City of Denver, and Prodigal Son Initiative are key partners that are committed to leading the transformational efforts at Holly, including interim use improvements. This fall Prodigal Son raised capital from the generous support of the Piton Foundation to install a new snap in basketball and a futsal court for community use. Prodigal Son as brought life back to the site with this and other interim improvements, as a plan is developed with HARP to identify additional long term end uses to best fit the needs of the community.
ULC is taking the model created from the work at Holly Square and focusing efforts in the Westwood neighborhood. Partnering again with Strengthening Neighborhoods, ULC worked with BuCu West and LiveWell Westwood to create Westwood Unidos, a resident driven community effort to build a foundation for future development. As ULC continues investing into underserved communities like Westwood and northeast Park Hill, the principals created by the resident stakeholders are of great importance to the real estate development process. You cannot go about changing a community without understanding it first.
ULC celebrated fall with the announcement of a new era for The Phillips Center! In November ULC unveiled the new Tramway Nonprofit Center to the community, recognizing the history of the building and the successful future of how the center supports 10+ nonprofits to serve 10,000 people annually. The highlight of the event was a special recognition of Chuck Phillips and his family, whose investments in the Cole neighborhood created a school, learning centers, nonprofit office space and critical educational services for the community. With the support of Councilman Albus Brooks, the City declared Wednesday, November 28, 2012, as Phillips Family Day in Denver. Since ULC acquired this Denver Shared Spaces building in 2007, $1million in improvements have been made to create a nonprofit hub that can provide essential services to Denver’s residents.
At the end of November, ULC closed on its largest real estate investment to date, and the first outside of the City of Denver: The Villas at Wadsworth Station. Thanks to Citywide Bank, State Division of Housing’s Colorado Housing Investment Fund, and nonprofit housing developers Rocky Mountain Communities (RMC) & Colorado Resources & Housing Development Corporation (CRHDC) ULC was able to purchase Villas in order to preserve critical workforce housing at a transit site, a rare opportunity. This 100 unit preservation makes the case for a regional transit-oriented development that can create and preserve affordable housing and other community assets at transit sites during the build out of FasTracks. Rocky Mountain Communities is managing the property, and Colorado Resources & Housing Development Corporation is securing financing to purchase the property from ULC by 2015.
As sole borrower of Denver’s TOD Fund, ULC has to date acquired 7 properties, drawing the Fund down $9.2+million, creating 470 affordable homes, at least 500 jobs and 120,000 square feet of commercial space, and assets such as a new library, daycare and affordable office space for nonprofits. ULC is working with Enterprise Community Partners, who manages the Fund, to expand the Fund to $30 million to the Denver region, and include multiple borrowers.
ULC continues working as master developer at TOD sites, coordinating efforts between public entities and nonprofit and for profit developers to incorporate most effective design concepts and redevelopment alternatives at various sites such as Yale Station, Blake Station, Villa TOD near 10th and Osage Station and Sheridan Station.
ULC is an active member of regional collaboratives that focus on equitable opportunity for housing, jobs, health and education such as Mile High Connects, Denver Regional Housing Collaborative, Community Development Partnership, Denver Livability Partnership, and DRCOG’s Sustainability Communities Initiative. These partnerships provide ULC with the opportunity to better coordinate our real estate work with the goals of public, private and nonprofit organization working in the Denver region.
In partnership with Housing Colorado, Home Builders Association and Colorado Associate of Home Builders, a major statewide study on The Economic Impact of Home Building was completed. The study revealed how critical home building including affordable housing is to the overall economy with jobs and revenue created from the housing industry. For example, the one‐year estimated economic impacts of building and rehabbing 809 subsidized homes in the Denver MSA include: over $89.6 million in local income; over $9.2 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments; and over 1,078 local jobs.
As we look into 2013, ULC is developing a new 3 year Strategic Plan to grow from and expand on the current mission driven real estate work being accomplished. The vision and support from our Board of Directors has been vital to the positive impact we have made in the communities we work in, the forthcoming new Plan will only strengthen the opportunity for ULC to succeed in the creation of community assets.
ULC would like to sincerely thank our partners for providing ULC the opportunity to continue our place based work, and wish you all good health, prosperity and peace in the New Year.
Dave Younggren, ULC Board Chairman
Aaron Miripol, ULC President & CEO
We lost a very active and valuable member of our Board a couple of weeks ago, Jamie Fitzpatrick was a critical part of our development committee and his guidance was highly valued and respected by the entire Board and staff. Jamie will be sorely missed.