Denver Building Once Home to Silverado S&L Now Affordable Housing | Westword

Room Service: Silverado Building on Broadway Now Affordable Housing, but Still Blue!

The S&L that was headquartered here failed in 1988, costing taxpayers a billion dollars.
The property at 655 Broadway opened its doors in December.
The property at 655 Broadway opened its doors in December. Catie Cheshire
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Room Service is a new series that takes a look at apartment complexes and other housing options. Our first installment was on the Art Studios; keep reading for our latest.

What: 655 Broadway, the Silverado Building

Where: 655 Broadway

studio and one-bedroom units range from $950-1,250

Management: Denver Housing Authority (DHA)

The building:
click to enlarge A drawing of a tall blue apartment building.
The teal building can be seen from miles away, as it is in this rendering.
Denver Housing Authority
The blue building at Speer Boulevard and Broadway — once headquarters to the notorious Silverado Savings & Loan, whose collapse in 1988 cost taxpayers $1 billion and tainted prominent local businessmen, including Neil Bush, brother of the then-president — has been freshly renovated by the DHA. The property sits on the Denver Health campus, so its revitalization is a partnership between the two groups. The DHA is a ground-lease tenant of Denver Health, and remodeled and manages the property.

Instead of offices, it now has 110 units, with 96 slated for those 55+ or with disabilities, and the other 14 designated as recovery units that the hospital can use to help patients without homes transition back to independence.

The nine-story building, known as the Silverado Building, was originally built in 1955 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an excellent example of the International Style. As a result, the DHA was able to use both low-income housing and historic tax credits to help fund the $30 million renovation.

Preserving the spot’s historic character — if not its notorious S&L history — is part of why the DHA kept the teal color of the curtain wall surrounding the construction.

“It's definitely a conversation piece when you're driving north on Speer,” says Erin Clark, chief real estate investment officer with DHA. “It's just this iconic blue building, and recently, as I was driving by, it really filled me with pride because it’s a building that everyone driving through Denver is going to see, is going to know, and now it’s all affordable housing. Sometimes people don't realize that affordable housing is everywhere.”

Being able to repurpose an older building in such a hot part of town was a huge bonus for the DHA, she adds. There's a bus stop right outside, along with access to the Cherry Creek Trail. It's near downtown Denver, and Broadway is hopping. “If it were just being sold on the market, we could not afford to just buy this property and put 110 income-restricted units here,” Clark says. “It would have to be the higher-end, luxury, market-rate housing to be able to support that land cost, so this is an amazing opportunity.”

It’s also an example of a partnership between DHA and Denver Health. The second floor comprises transition apartments where patients who are still healing can stay in close proximity to their health-care providers at the hospital — rather than fending for themselves on the streets or in a shelter while experiencing homelessness.
click to enlarge A room with couches and stools.
Each floor has a basic, communal living area.
Catie Cheshire
Taylor Sun, a clinical social worker on site for Denver Health, says that many of the people who will be served by this program wouldn’t be accepted in a shelter anyway, because they often aren’t able to complete activities of daily living like dressing themselves without help.

“This targets a very specific need and gap in the city of Denver,” Sun says. “They can remain independent, not in the shelters, not in nursing facilities. … Another thing that this program offers is for folks who have chronic health needs. The idea is that once they're housed, they'll be able to stop using our emergency departments so frequently and really establish themselves with a primary care physician.”

Patients can stay for three months, after which they become eligible to move into one of the other units in the building or receive a voucher to live in another DHA building. The DHA hopes to keep as many people as possible at the 655 Broadway location, however, since they will form bonds with others there.

“Our goal together is, really, what do you need to be successful?” Sun says of her work with patients. “One of those main things is healthy, positive relationships in your life, whether that's family that you already have a healthy relationship with and staying in touch with them, whether that's joining and staying connected to a faith community, whether that's knowing your neighbors or the other residents in your building.”
click to enlarge A room with a couch and mirror.
One-bedrooms like this one lease for $1,250, though with housing vouchers, prices can vary.
Catie Cheshire
The inside scoop:
The building is designed with wide hallways for accessibility. It has concrete floors and large windows in the units, which are mainly studios and one-bedrooms. Each floor has a small communal living area, and residents also get access to a gym and community room on the first floor.

“The units are on the smaller side, so we try to have spaces for them to meet their friends or meet their neighbors,” says DHA property manager Aurelia Cromer.

Each floor is color-coded and has its own Denver landmark theme. One floor's color is red and its theme is Red Rocks. One is blue with a Denver Art Museum theme. The Denver Health floor is yellow with a Union Station motif.
click to enlarge A man in a wheelchair smiles at the camera.
Rashid Sayles is a current tenant at the building.
Catie Cheshire
Rashid Sayles was one of the first to move into a Denver Health space; he's recovering from a gunshot wound. His goal is to learn to walk again, as he discovered that using a wheelchair while homeless made him “prey,” he says.

Before he was shot, he rented with roommates. During his initial hospital stay, they were evicted but didn't tell him, so he left the hospital without a place to live except Denver's streets.

"For about a week I was homeless in this chair, and I'm like, ‘No, I can't,’” Sayles recalls.

He says that being able to live at 655 Broadway, with easy access to physical therapy while he recovers, is a blessing.

It's also a happy ending for a building with a very notorious chapter in its history.
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