Nonprofits Acquire Transit-Oriented Affordable Apartments in Denver

Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Denver–Enterprise Community Partners Inc. and the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), a Denver-based nonprofit real estate organization, have made their first property acquisition through the Denver Transit-Oriented Development Fund, which provided a low-interest loan for the deal. The acquired property is the 50-year-old Dahlia Street Apartments, which features 36 affordable homes in six buildings located in the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood of Denver.

The TOD Fund is a $15 million credit facility focused on preserving and creating affordable housing with current and future access to high-frequency public transportation. The fund is a creation of the ULC and the Columbia, Md.-based Enterprise, as well as the city and county of Denver. The MacArthur Foundation, the Mile High Community Loan Fund, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Rose Community Foundation, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo Bank, among other contributors, also kicked in.

ULC’s purchase of the property using the $1 million TOD Fund loan also included the use of Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding supplied by the Denver Office of Economic Development. As a requirement of that funding, Dahlia Street Apartments must remain available only to households earning up to 50 percent of the area’s median income. ULC will ultimately partner with another nonprofit housing provider to rehabilitate the property’s buildings, concentrating on energy conservation upgrades that will make the homes even more affordable.

The apartment renovation is a part of a larger redevelopment of the area near the site of Dahlia Square, a ’50s-vintage mall that had virtually died by the 1990s. In the late ’90s, the Denver Urban Renewal Authority began the long process of demolition of the mall and environmental remediation of the site. Plans now call for Denver-based Oakwood Homes to build housing on the site, which is across the street from the Dahlia Street Apartments, though the recession has delayed construction.

According to Enterprise, it is working on similar projects funded in similar ways in other parts of the country. “We’re is actively engaged in partnerships in several cities that are interested in creating similar models,” Melinda Pollack, the organization’s director-vulnerable populations and rental preservation, tells MHN. “Two places were we are currently engaged are Washington DC and the Bay Area.”

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