Affordable housing development coming to downtown Denver

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DENVER -- Affordable housing units are coming to Denver’s lower downtown area, just blocks from the popular Union Station.

“Union station, you know, that's a really hot area,” said Ron Throupe, Associate Professor at the Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management at the University of Denver. “Those rents are the highest rents in town.”

But there will soon be affordable units for rent in Ashley Union Station, which is now under construction in the lot at 18th Street and Chestnut Place.

“Right now, with rent rising so much, folks who are in a lower income bracket are really having a hard time finding any available unit,” said Ismael Guerrero, the Executive Director of the Denver Housing Authority.

Of 107 units in the four-story complex, 75 of them will be income-restricted. 34 will be for households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income. Another 34 will be set aside for households earning 50 percent of the area median income. And seven additional units will be available for households earning lower than that.

“We think any neighborhood should have diverse housing options,” Guerrero said. “So you have a diversity of incomes, a diversity of generations, and a diversity of ethnicities.”

The Denver Housing Authority is a partner in the project, purchasing the land and providing the developer, Atlanta-based The Integral Group, with a 70-year ground lease.

“Whether you're a bus driver or now at the new King Soopers, somebody working at the grocery store there, to be able to find a place near where you work,” Guerrero said.

The $30 million project is privately and publicly funded. In addition to DHA’s contributions, the city put up $2.3 million from its general fund, plus a $950,000 loan from the affordable housing ordinance fund.

Every time a city grows or is a place to go - which is certainly happening in Denver - the affordable housing tends to lag behind the market housing that's being built,” Throupe said. “And they have to catch up, and this town certainly needs more of it.”

A representative for Integral Group said they’ll begin the application process as they get closer to construction completion. There will be a waiting list and the units will be available on a mostly first-come, first-serve basis, pending income, credit and background checks.

Integral anticipates construction to be complete in early 2017.