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Lowry Park, Once Air Force Officers' Quarters, Will Be Razed and Seniors Moved

Over a hundred seniors living at the Lowry Park Independent and Assisted Living Community in east Denver will be able to avoid the rushed relocation that some had feared.

After one resident heard rumors that the complex was destined to be scraped and developed into hundreds of new units in the hot Lowry neighborhood, he contacted an official with Vivage Senior Living Solutions, the company that manages the facility — but that official reported back that the executive director didn't know about the sale, either. Still, residents worried that they would suddenly get a thirty-day notice to vacate, and that would not be enough time to find a new home.

Space is in short supply in metro Denver, and a move can be debilitating even when there are available spaces. Many of the seniors rely on Medicaid and Social Security, and switching those accounts to new addresses can be complicated, too.

Nancy Schwalm, chief business development officer for Vivage, says that management knew there were offers on the table for the property, a circa 1938 building that was used as officers' quarters back when Lowry was an Air Force base,  but were kept in the dark about any details. Once they heard a sale was imminent, though, officials nailed down an exit plan, taking measures to ensure that all 106 residents would find adequate housing.

"It's just a reflection of what's going on with the Denver market," says Schwalm. "As soon as we knew a certain date that was going to work, we immediately started putting a plan together. . . our goal would be to exceed that thirty-day notice. If anything,  we want to work on sixty or ninety days, and hopefully have everyone placed sooner than that so that they can relax." The transition isn't so complicated if Medicaid recipients stay in the same county, she notes.

"Our goal is to give them as many choices as possible, but at the end of the day they're going to choose where they live," she adds.
Mark Osweiler, senior vice president of senior living, was the official approached by the resident who'd heard the sale rumors, and told the executive director earlier this month. But it wasn't until Friday, March 25, when Osweiler learned that Vivage's management contract with the property would end June 30. "So we're giving the residents more than ninety days and that is our goal: to have plenty of time to help them find a place, get them moved and then just say, 'We're done,'" says Osweiler. 

Meetings to inform residents have been set up, and there will be a housing fair to acquaint them with new communities.  The local Ombudsman program — an independent residential advocacy office at the state where people can go to file complaints of maladministration — was also notified, but so far no complaints have been filed, according to Schwalm.

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"Whatever happens after June 30, we don't know," says Osweiler.

Mary Carr, executive director of the Lowry Community Master Association, could not provide more details on the deal, and a consultant on the project declined comment, citing a non-disclosure agreement.

The Air Force closed Lowry in 1994; the Lowry Redevelopment Authority, a quasi-governmental entity, was created by the cities of Denver and Aurora to redevelop the base. The vision was to create a new urban community — and the effort has been successful, with the area now full of housing that ranges from apartments and townhomes to pricy single-family dwellings, alongside retail complexes.

The Lowry Park parcel is one of the last to be redeveloped. Osweiler and Schwalm say a few current residents were stationed at Lowry when it was still operated by the Air Force, and will be sad to leave. Vivage took over management of this particular property in 2011; the company employs about 2,100 people in Colorado.

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