Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Wants to Build Eight Stories of Housing by I-25

This La Quinta Inn property will become affordable housing.
This La Quinta Inn property will become affordable housing. Google Maps
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless wants to transform the La Quinta Inn off Interstate 25 northwest of downtown into at least eight stories of affordable and supportive housing.

"Our hope is to build up to 200 units of affordable and supportive housing. Whether we do that in phases or all at once will depend on low-income housing tax credit availability," says Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer for the Coalition. "We think that we can get two buildings on there up to eight stories."

The Coalition purchased the 3500 and 3600 Park Avenue West properties for around $12 million in December 2021. The organization now uses La Quinta as a temporary 103-room shelter for people recovering from COVID or at risk of serious illness or death from contracting COVID.

On October 4, the Denver City Council Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a rezoning request that would allow the CCH to build up to eight stories on the site, with a maximum height of 110 feet. The new zoning, which will need to be approved by the full council later this month, would also allow for mixed uses, including a drive-thru restaurant.

Over the past four decades, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has become a major property owner in Colorado, with a portfolio that includes buildings with about 1,700 housing units in metro Denver.

While the CCH has purchased other motels and converted them directly into studio apartments, the La Quinta may have to go. "It's very likely that we'll have to knock it down in order to get the additional infrastructure underneath to get to that height," says Alderman, pointing to another Coalition project, Renaissance at North Colorado Station, as a possible road map for the Park Avenue West development.

"North Colorado Station used to have a motel on it, and we purchased the motel and the land underneath it and used the motel over the next three years as transitional housing," Alderman says. But ultimately, the CCH demolished the building and started the project from the ground up.

The Coalition purchased the La Quinta Inn property using reserve funds, but it's seeking reimbursement from the City of Denver and the State of Colorado using federal COVID relief dollars. Denver has already started chipping in: On September 26, the city council approved sending $5 million to the CCH to fund the continued sheltering of homeless individuals at the La Quinta Inn and also to help pay off some of the financing that the organization used to purchase the motel.

Owing to the Expanding Housing Affordability ordinance passed by council in July, which provides height incentives for developers, the Coalition could potentially go up to twelve stories, even though the rezoning request is only for eight stories. That's because the entire residential aspect of the development would be designated as affordable.

Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, who represents the area, wants to go even higher than that. "For this specific use, I think we should definitely consider going up to twenty if it’s allowable," she said at the October 4 committee meeting.

How high could the project go? "It's too early to tell," responded Max Lubarsky, a developer with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, at the meeting. "We will try to put as many units as we can fit to serve as many families and households as we can."

The earliest the Coalition would start construction on the La Quinta project would be sometime in 2024.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.

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