The trailer parks are gone and the work has started on Del Corazon, a 197-unit affordable housing complex on 4.5 acres straddling Morrison Road in Westwood, one of Denver's poorest neighborhoods.
St. Charles Town Company broke ground last week on the $40 million project, which is expected to be completed in early 2018. Plans call for seven new buildings — four on the north side of Morrison Road and three on the south side. About 75 percent of the apartments will be two-bedroom units, with the remainder evenly split between one-bedroom and three-bedroom units. The complex will also include vegetable gardens, a futsal soccer court, playground, fitness center, computer center and care-sharing services.
Del Corazon, which means “from the heart” in Spanish, will be reserved for renters earning 60 percent or less of area median income. For a one-person household, that means tenants with an income of up to $33,660; a three-person household could earn up to $43,260.
Charlie Woolley, founding principal and president of St. Charles Town Company (and one of the developers featured in our "Developing Community" story), started talking with the former owners about buying the property in 2010. He completed the acquisition in 2014.
“Councilman Paul Lopez brought attention to the project, and that sparked broader conversation about neighborhood investment, which ultimately led to this project moving forward,” Woolley says. “This project promises to be a community asset that will provide critically needed workforce housing, as well as redevelopment of two crucial land parcels that have been major obstacles to a broader revitalization effort in the Westwood community.”
The neighborhood also will benefit from the installation of a HAWK (High-intensity Activated Cross Walk) signal that will help pedestrians cross Morrison Road safely.
Financing for the project is being provided by Gardner Capital, CREA LLC and Citibank. Public finance partners include the Denver Office of Economic Development, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. Public funds were necessary to offset the cost of relocating tenants of the mobile-home parks.
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About 250 people had to be relocated to new homes before the trailer parks, which were on the verge of being condemned, could be demolished. Some people ended up renting and received rent differentials; others sold their trailers, putting the proceeds toward a down payment on a home.
“It was about making sure people were in a better place than they were,” Lopez says. “You cannot romanticize extreme poverty.”
Project: Del Corazon, a 197-unit apartment complex
Address: 4400 Morrison Road
Developer: St. Charles Town Company
This is the first in a series of stories on building projects around town.