Since 2003, the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) has invested $60 million into metro Denver communities, creating real estate that benefits communities. As a founding member of Mile High Connects, ULC’s contribution has been significant through equitable transit oriented developments (TOD). As sole borrower of the Denver TOD Fund, ULC made 8 investments along 5 rail lines that will result in over 600 units of affordable housing, well over 200,000 square feet of commercial space and new community assets including a library, nonprofit performance theatre, childcare facility and a workforce training center. ULC’s investments at transit sites have leveraged an additional $300 million in economic development, created hundreds of new jobs and increased local tax revenue.
One catalytic development ULC is focusing on, along with multiple MHC partners, is a 9.4 acre site on the East Rail Commuter Line called Park Hill Village West. The Park Hill Station Apartments: a new 4-story, 156 units, affordable residential community is currently under construction by Delwest Capital. The completion is scheduled for the first quarter of 2016, to coincide with the opening of the 40th & Colorado Station on the East Line. A variety of MHC partners are also working to address existing First and Last Mile Connection issues. ULC has proposed a creative concept for a new 1.6 mile trail connecting the station area to the surrounding neighborhood. Recently selected as a grant finalist by ArtPlace America, the Health and Heritage Trail, if fully planned and funded, will provide a new public transit accessible safe, healthy, pedestrian and bike promenade; celebrating the unique cultural identity as well as the pride and passion of Denver’s only remaining predominantly African American neighborhood.
ULC is also leading a workforce training pilot with MHC, Colorado Construction Institute, and Community College of Denver-Workforce Initiative Now (CCD-WIN) to implement a project to train local youth for middle-skilled construction work and then employ them at the TOD sites in their own neighborhood. The event will highlight the magnitude of Colorado’s immediate skilled construction labor needs and engage local construction industry leaders in exploring creative solutions focused on local workforce training. This pilot project demonstrates the important linkage of employment opportunities for low-income neighborhoods and access to transit.
While the need for 26,000 affordable units in Denver remains a priority, increasing the incomes of families living in affordable housing is equally vital to a sustainable economy for the entire Denver region.