Affordable Housing Coming to RiNo
DENVER — RiNo’s only permanently affordable housing community is expected to break ground in the fourth quarter of 2018, at the 38th and Blake Station of the A Line Commuter Rail.
The Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) is partnering with Medici Consulting Group (MCG) to develop Walnut Street Lofts, 65 units of permanently affordable housing. The site, located at 3601 and 3789 Walnut Street will be part of ULC’s expanding Community Land Trust (CLT), ensuring the property will remain affordable for generations through a 99 year ground lease.
The units will serve residents making between 30-60 percent of area median income with rents ranging from approximately $400 for a one-bedroom to $1,200 for a three-bedroom.
MCG was recently awarded $1,198,115 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), which will provide $11 million in equity to finance the development which is estimated to be a $17 million project. The development is made possible through the incorporation of a ground lease, where ULC will sell the development rights to MCG and continue to own the land. The current land value in the River North (RiNo) and Cole neighborhoods prevents opportunities for affordable housing; ULC’s CLT creates a feasible option for affordable development without development partners incurring the expense of buying the land.
“ULC is thrilled to partner with Medici to bring the only affordable housing option to RiNo’s 38th and Blake Station area. We appreciate CHFA’s recognition of the importance of this project in helping to fill the extensive affordable housing needs in this quickly changing community,” states Debra Bustos, ULC Vice President of Real Estate, and visionary for buying this critical 1.5 acre site. “Using a ground lease is how we ensure our investment protects the long-term community benefit of the site, we are fortunate to work with incredible partners who understand the value of permanent affordability with a Community Land Trust.”
In support of a City led initiative, ULC plans to develop their adjacent land in partnership with McWhinney, whose market rate development will provide approximately $1.5 million toward the construction of the Walnut Street Lofts as part of the height incentive requirement for affordable housing development. This proposed zoning policy, sponsored by the office of Denver City Council President Albus Brooks, is currently being formed and reviewed as part of the City’s prioritized focus of creating highly needed affordable housing options.
“Third time is a charm. I am ecstatic that Medici and ULC were awarded CHFA tax credits, which will combat displacement in this area while providing housing next to rail. We have been working on a zoning incentive package for 2 years with stakeholders that increases density at the station, in exchange for affordable housing and community serving businesses. We hope this will be a model for the rest of our city,” explains Denver City Council President Albus Brooks.
ULC and MCG previously partnered in the development of the Evans Station Lofts in Denver, an award winning and nationally recognized affordable housing community showcasing innovative design and building character. The Walnut Street Lofts will include the same amenities as Evans including community space for nonprofits or local artists, fitness center, computer lab, rooftop decks and a courtyard.
“This project is perfectly suited to our mission of creating beautifully designed housing in a transit oriented area that will provide opportunities for residents to prosper, “says MCG principal and project leader Josh Russell. “We are excited to work on a development of such significance for the community and the families that will live here, as well as being an economic and social impact contributor to the high-density station area.”
The Walnut Street Lofts development is expected to break ground in the fourth quarter of 2018 and open in late 2019. Pre-leasing will begin in summer 2019.
Rendering courtesy of ULC.