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Denver city planners roll out land-use, mobility ideas

City planners are rolling out ideas for land use and mobility in Denver neighborhoods at workshops this week.

Denverites have called for a more inclusive city with strong and authentic neighborhoods. To achieve that, the city must move beyond the city’s “areas of change” and “areas of stability” model that was established in 2002.

The new concept acknowledges that all places in the city are evolving in pursuit of becoming complete in their own way — not just through enabling or limiting development but through quality-of-life infrastructure like sidewalks, housing options, transit access, parks and open space. Diversity, affordability and good urban design and architecture are key to complete neighborhoods as well.

Denver will continue to grow and change. Regional centers and corridors would take on the most growth, while the remainder of Denver’s places would evolve in smaller ways. Ensuring the proper scale and intensity for all places — and appropriate transitions between residential areas and other places — are key to livability.

Based on more than a year and a half of listening to the community’s voice about critical issues from inclusivity and affordability to neighborhood character and transit connections, city planners are working on a new approach to managing land use.

Residents can learn about and provide input on potential strategies at the Blueprint Denver workshops. The first workshops were held earlier this week. The remaining workshops are as follows:

• Feb. 27, 5:30 - 8 p.m., Corky Gonzales Library, 1498 Irving St., Denver (Council district 3)
• Mar. 1, 6 - 8 p.m., All Saints Parish Hall, 2559 S. Federal Blvd., Denver (Council district 2)
• Mar. 6, 5:30 - 7:30, Community of Christ Church, 480 N. Marion St., Denver (Council district 10)
• Mar. 7, 6 - 7:30 p.m., Evie Garrett Dennis Campus, 4800 Telluride St., Denver (Council district 11)
• Mar. 8, 6 - 8 p.m., Valverde Elementary, 2030 W. Alameda Ave., Denver (Council district 7) SPANISH-LED
• Mar. 14, 6 - 8 p.m., DSST Byers School, 150 S. Pearl St., Denver (Council district 7) - No Spanish interpretation
• Mar. 15, 5:30 - 7 p.m., DSST Stapleton High School, 2000 Valentia St., Denver (Council district 8)

Celebrate public art with selfies

Denver Arts & Venues is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Denver Public Art, a program that sets aside 1 percent of every municipal capital improvement project over $1 million for the creation of public art, by inviting people to share photos and videos of how they engage with the collection.

Denver residents and visitors can share their photos and videos through social media using the hashtag #DenverPublicArt30.

“The Denver Public Art collection is an anchor of the city’s cultural landscape,” Mayor Michael Hancock said. “This will be a celebration that encourages residents and visitors to engage with and celebrate the collection by finding and interacting with some of Denver’s iconic artworks, as well as those pieces located in their own neighborhoods.”

The social media campaign will encourage people to focus on 15 themes — two per month — and 30 favorite photographs from these posts will be displayed at the end of the year at Buell Theatre. Favorites will be selected by Denver Arts & Venues staff and Denver artists. All submissions will be highlighted on PublicArtDenver.com.

“There are some pieces in the collection that everyone recognizes,” says Denver Public Art Manager Michael Chavez. “But by identifying themes, we hope people will seek out the art hidden in plain sight.”

Monthly themes are as follows:
  •  March: Art in Cold Weather, and Women’s History and Heritage
  •  April: Animal Art, and Public Art Selfies
  •  May: Memorials and Statues, and Asian and Pacific American History and Heritage
  •  June: Summer-Time Art (Picnics and Park Fun), and Find Art in Your Neighborhood
  •  July: Denver International Airport Collection, and Light or Kinetic Art
  •  August: Urban Arts Fund, and Indoor Art
  • September: Latino and Hispanic History and Heritage
In addition to the public art funding ordinance which was created in 1988, the Denver Public Art Collection of more than 400 pieces includes several donated artworks, many of which are more than 100 years old. Denver Public Art also offers free, year-round tours in addition to other Public Art related events, and manages the Urban Arts Fund (celebrating its 10th anniversary this year).

Johnson Nathan Strohe designs City Park Golf clubhouse

Johnson Nathan Strohe has designed a view-oriented clubhouse to anchor the City Park Golf Course, which is being rebuilt.

The design’s stone, wood and glass materials will help to integrate the clubhouse into the new golf course. Its curvilinear form will allow for public functions with a panoramic facade that will capture course, city and mountain views.

Slated for completion in the spring of 2019, the 22,560-square-foot project includes an upper level for golf operations and entertainment, as well as a sunken lower level for golf cart storage. In addition to serving as an amenity space for golfers, the clubhouse is suited for events such as weddings, family reunions and other social gatherings.

The clubhouse also includes space for The First Tee of Denver golf program, which aims to educate and inspire youth academically, socially and physically through the game of golf. Adjacent new buildings will accommodate maintenance operations and a comfort station.

The project is part of a broader golf course redesign that will increase course yardage, create a driving range without netting, provide new sidewalks to improve connectivity and integrate storm water detention.

Johnson Nathan Strohe has previously designed public golf clubhouses for Indian Tree Golf Club, Riverdale Golf Club and The Greg Mastriona Golf Courses at Hyland Hills.

Denver adopts five-year housing plan

Denver has adopted a five-year housing policy, strategy and investment plan that outlines the strategies that will guide the city’s affordable housing investments to create and preserve diverse housing options that are accessible and affordable to all residents.

Housing an Inclusive Denver is centered around four fundamental values:
  • Leveraging and enhancing housing investments to support inclusive communities
  • Identifying ways to foster communities of opportunity around good homes, good jobs, good schools and access to more transportation options and health services.
  • Looking at housing as a continuum that serves residents across a range of incomes, from people experiencing homelessness to those living on fixed incomes.
  • Embracing diversity throughout our neighborhoods to ensure that Denver remains a welcoming community for all residents.
“The adoption of our plan is a milestone in our work to ensure safe, affordable and accessible housing for every Denver resident,” says Mayor Michael Hancock. “This plan will guide our future housing investments in a way that reflects our city’s values, especially when it comes to helping lift up those residents that need our support the most.”

Action plans that support the implementation of Housing an inclusive Denver will be adopted annually by the Denver Office of Economic Development. The 2018-2023 plan recommendations include investment guidelines balanced along the income spectrum, with 40 percent to 50 percent of the city’s combined housing resources supporting people experiencing homelessness and/or earning between 31 percent and 80 percent of area median income and 20 percent to 30 percent of investments serving residents seeking to become homeowner or remain in the homes they own.

CHFA invests $2.36 billion in affordable housing in 2017

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority invested a record $2.36 billion in affordable housing last year.

The organization helped more than 8,000 Coloradans become homeowners and supported the development or preservation of more than 6,000 units of affordable rental housing. Both figures are at the highest levels ever for CHFA, which was created in 1973.

“CHFA is a mission-based organization, so our production growth is directly aligned to the growing needs of those we serve,” says Cris White, CHFA’s executive director and CEO. “In the last three years, CHFA’s investment in affordable housing has increased 182 percent compared to 2011 through 2013, with 2017 being our most historic year yet in terms of production. This demonstrates that demand for affordable housing options in Colorado, whether purchasing or renting, is at an all-time high.”

To help Coloradans purchase homes affordably, CHFA offers 20-year fixed-rate home loan products at competitive rates, with options for down payment assistance. In addition to grants, CHFA last year launched down payment assistance in the form of a second mortgage. It also offers Mortgage Credit Certificates, a tax credit that can save homeowners 20 percent of their mortgage interest each year.

CHFA also sponsors statewide home buyer education classes, which reached the highest level of enrollment to date in 2017 with 13,224 households served.

To support the development or preservation of affordable rental housing in Colorado, CHFA allocates federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and also offers financing to developers. Last year, CHFA awarded $53.2 million in credits to support 4,397 units of affordable rental housing that will be built or preserved by undergoing renovations.

CHFA also invested $363.3 million in multifamily financing, bringing the total number of units supported last year with either loans or tax credits to 6,217, setting a new benchmark for total units supported by CHFA in one year.

“CHFA will continue to work with our communities and housing partners in 2018 and the years ahead to help make Colorado a more affordable place to live,” White said. “Identifying ways to leverage and increase resources for both for-sale and rental housing is key, along with preserving existing affordable rental housing stock.”

Fund to help artists make spaces safe

Denver Arts & Venues has launched the Safe Creative Spaces Fund as an extension of the city’s Safe Occupancy Program in an effort to provide funding for improvements to buildings that are occupied by artists.

The program will provide $300,000 in need-based funding for creative space tenant safety and building improvements. Applications are being accepted online.

“We are committed to cultivating, sustaining and promoting our diverse artistic and creative industry, including that our artists have a safe, affordable space where they can live and work,” Mayor Michael Hancock says. “The Safe Occupancy Program and the Safe Creative Spaces Fund are designed to support our creative professionals with resources to get these live-work spaces up to code, keep them affordable and avoid further displacements.”

Funding will be administered through Jan. 17, 2020 and is available to tenant or owner applicants who own or run a creative space such as a live/work collective, a creative business or a creative assembly space in the City and County of Denver that is enrolled in the Safe Occupancy Program.

The funds will be administered through a partnership with RedLine, a nonprofit contemporary art center. RedLine also will facilitate support between artists and art businesses. Applicants are encouraged to contact Redline for free, confidential guidance before enrolling in the Safe Occupancy Program or applying for Safe Creative Spaces Funding.

“RedLine is very excited to collaborate with Denver Arts & Venues, the City of Denver and the greater arts and culture communities to help address the growing need for safe creative spaces in Denver,” says Louise Martorano, executive director of RedLine. “Both the Safe Occupancy Program and Safe Creative Space Fund represent two key initiatives that not only provide a path for security and stability for artists in creative spaces, but also the financial resources to make that path accessible.”

Colorado Enterprise Fund to participate in CO Impact Days

Colorado Enterprise Fund is among the 100 social ventures seeking “impact investments” that was chosen to meet with investors at CO Impact Days Social Venture Showcase Nov. 17.

The 100 ventures will convene at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House for the second year of the “shark-tank for good” statewide marketplace for impact investing. The selected social ventures will showcase their investment opportunities to offer not only a financial return on the impact investor’s investment but also to offer solutions to some of the most pressing issues of our time.”

“We are so thrilled to again invite more than 200 investors and philanthropists to interact with these valuable social ventures,” says Dr. Stephanie Gripne, founder of the Impact Finance Center and creator of the CO Impact Days. “When these two groups of powerful movers and shakers share a room, there is no telling the good that will come. We’ve aimed to offer a diverse array of impact investments, with a goal that every investor will leave knowing that deal flow is not a Colorado impact investing problem.”

The goal of CO Impact Days is to catalyze $100 million in impact investments into Colorado social ventures in the next three years, and it is kicking off with CO Impact Days Nov. 15-17. The initiative is possible because Colorado is home to a number of national leaders in impact investing and a thriving and collaborative community of social venture entrepreneurs in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, as well as philanthropists and investors who are committed to growing Colorado’s economy and creating good jobs.

“Funding from these impact investors will enable us to serve more Colorado businesses, which in turn will ultimately advance economic opportunity and prosperity in our Colorado communities,” says Ceyl Prinster, president and CEO of Colorado Enterprise Fund.

Broker's buyer bonus: Helping to send a child to school in Uganda

Denver real estate broker Tenzin Gyaltsen is helping put Ugandan children through school one home sale at a time through a partnership with the S.O.U.L Foundation.

One child will be put through school for every home sale that’s over $300,000. It costs about $1,600 to put a child through all seven years of primary school.

“That gives them all of their school books and one meal per day,” said Gyaltsen, a broker associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Colorado. “It’s an added bonus to the house. It almost personifies it in a way.”

Gyaltsen, who formerly owned an eco-friendly clothing company, met representatives from S.O.U.L (Supporting Opportunities for Ugandans to Learn) at an event and fell in love with the organization. He had a desire to do something philanthropic, so he sponsored Rita Naigaga, the first of many students.

When he turned his attention to real estate he decided to expand his efforts by sponsoring a child with proceeds from every house he lists for more than $300,000.

Gyaltsen works with investors to buy houses, fix them up and resell them. When he has an upcoming listing he contacts S.O.U.L to pledge to sponsor a student, The organization then sends a child’s photo and bio, which will be framed and displayed in the house. If the new owners wish, the address of the newly sold home stays with the sponsorship, and all the letters and updates from the student are mailed to the house.

“Lack of education is one of the biggest problems in the world,” Gyaltsen said. “In this part of the world, most children don’t get an education. It’s important to equip children with knowledge so they can go out and better the world and their communities.”

Business loan program for veterans created

The Colorado Enterprise Fund has created a program for Colorado veterans and Gold Star family members who are interested in starting or growing a small business in the state.

Veteran Access Loan Opportunity Resource (VALOR) will provide discounted loan rates and extended terms for military veterans who are unable to secure financing through traditional banks.

Any honorable discharged U.S. military veteran or Gold Star family member who is a Colorado resident is eligible to apply for a VALOR loan of up to $500,000. Recipients will receive a 2 percent discount from standard Colorado Enterprise Fund rates and an origination fee of 1.5 percent. The loan term would be for up to 10 years with an interest-only period of up to six months.

The loans can be used for working capital, equipment, inventory, property improvements, business purchases and commercial real estate.

For more information, contact Senior Loan Office Mike Jensen, a U.S. Army veteran, at (720) 473-4068 or at mike@coloradoenterprisefund.org.

Founded in 1976, the Colorado Enterprise Fund is a non-profit lending institution that specializes in loans for small businesses and startups statewide that are unable to secure traditional bank financing. To date, the organization has has made more than 2,000 loans totaling $63 million to small businesses.

The real numbers: Center city neighborhoods add housing, but is it affordable?

Denver is on track to meet a goal set in 2007 to add 18,000 housing units in the city center by 2027.

The center city has seen an increase of 10,000 residential units since 2010, and another nearly 9,000 are under construction, according to the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Center City Housing report.

Even so, the units added have not been enough to keep housing costs affordable for some residents and workers.

“The Downtown Denver Partnership has advanced a variety of solutions to stem the impact of rising housing costs, ad we are focused on addressing the need for diversity in housing type and affordability to meet the needs for downtown’s workforce,” says Tami Door, president and CEO of the partnership. “While our residential and employee populations are growing at unprecedented rates, we must ensure companies can continue to attract and retain the employees they need to be successful, and affordable housing is a key part of the equation.”

The partnership has led several strategic housing initiatives, including advocating for construction defects reform, working with developers to add a variety of unit types and endorsing the creation of the first affordable housing fund in the City and County of Denver. The partnership also played a key role in moving the LIVE Denver program forward.

Other insights from the report include:
  • Denver’s center city neighborhoods are home to 79,367 residents and 130,227 employees
  • Since 2010, the center city has added 15,877 new residents and 33,065 new jobs
  • Denver is the fourth fastest growing city in the United States, and the demand to live in the center city is high, with the residential population tripling since 2000
  • Capitol Hill is the most populous center city neighborhood with a population of 17,142 residents
  • The Central Platte Valley neighborhood adjacent to Denver Union Station experienced the highest percentage of population growth since 2010
  • The Central Platte Valley neighborhood also added the most new units since 2010, totaling 5,669 units completed or under construction, more than 3,800 more units than the next busiest neighborhood for development, River North.

The Record Company to headline holiday concert benefitting public schools

The Grammy Award-nominated Los Angeles band The Record Company is headlining the fourth annual Sing It To Me Santa concert Dec. 9 at the Ogden Theatre.

The concert will benefit music education in Denver Public Schools through the newly formed nonprofit organization Take Note Colorado.

“I am honored and proud to announce that Sing It To Me Santa will become a signature event under Take Note Colorado,” says Karen Radman, executive director of Take Note Colorado. “And, that net proceeds from Sing It To Me Santa 2017 will benefit music education in Denver Public Schools.”

The Record Company is a Los Angeles-based rock trio whose 2016 debut album was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary Blues Album.

Tickets for the show are available at www.axs.com. General admission tickets are $25-30, and VIP tickets are $250. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m. For information on sponsorships for the show, contact Karen Radman at karen@takenotecolorado.org.

Denver-based vintage rock/funk/blues powerhouse Tracksuit Wedding will open the show, performing original new tracs from its just-released second album “Now or Never” — and some holiday favorites to celebrate the season. 

Take Note Colorado, chaired by Gov. John Hickenlooper and Isaac Slade of The Fray, is a new statewide initiative with a goal to provide access to musical instruments and instruction to all of Colorado’s K-12 students. Sing It To Me Santa is a benefit concert created in 2014 by Libby Anschutz.

Study will evaluate minority- and women-owned business program

The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) is launching a disparity study to guide future implementation of minority- and women-owned business programs in Denver. 

The study will measure whether minority- and women-owned contractors are being underutilized in city business, thereby providing a basis for the continuation of Denver’s Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise program and related federal programs.

OED has retained BBC Research & Consulting to conduct the study to help evaluate the effectiveness of the local MWBE program and two federal programs: The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program and the Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. The study will examine the city’s procurement services and products, the subcontracting participation of contractors/service providers who do business with the city and anecdotal evidence collected from a cross-section of the local business community.

“With significant public investment projects on the horizon, and by staying true to our Denver values, this city will show how economic prosperity can bring everyone along,” says Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “We’re looking forward to taking a thorough, objective look at our inclusivity programs in order to bolster our approach and further level the playing field for Denver’s minority contracting community.”

To help inform the study, a series of public hearings will be held this fall: 
  • Oct. 3, 11:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Eisenhower Recreation Center, 4300 E. Dartmouth Ave.
  • Oct. 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St.
  • Oct. 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Denver Police Station-District One, 1311 W. 46th Ave.
  • Oct. 13, 9-11 a.m., Denver International Airport (tentative)

Comments and information can also be submitted to denverdisparitystudy@bbcresearch.com. For more information visit denvergove.org/dsbo.

How to get a deal at Denver's best coffee shops

If you’re a coffee junkie, the Fika Coffee Passport is your ticket to learning all about Denver’s vibrant coffee scene.

The $20 passport features 28 craft shops and roasters featuring two-for-one coffee specials per venue between April 1 and July 31. Some of the participating venues include Allegro Coffee Roasters, The Denver Bicycle Cafe, Huckleberry Roasters, Pablo’s Coffee and Pigtrain Coffee.

Why is it called Fika? Because a fika is a custom in Swedish culture that celebrates a break from work for a bit of play. The Passport Program folks liked the idea of getting out of the office to meet a friend for a chat over a cup of coffee.

The locations in the booklet were selected for both atmosphere and quality coffee and each offers a one-of-a-kind experience. You can share your coffee with a friend or enjoy both yourself. Each location has crafted a speciality beverage that best represents their shop or practices. You can also substitute any craft coffee drink for a drip coffee.

For every book sold, $1 will be donated to Colorado Public Radio.

City of Cranes: A whopping 42 projects either planned or under construction downtown

Forty-two projects with an investment value of $2.8 billion are either under construction or planned in downtown Denver, according to the 2017 State of Downtown Denver Report recently released by the Downtown Denver Partnership. 

The projects will add more than 1,000 hotel rooms, 5,000 residences and 2.5 million square feet of office space. 

“Great cities do not happen by accident,” says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “Our thriving center city is a result of a strategic vision to build one of the most economically powerful center cities in the country, and the metrics outlined in the 2017 State of Downtown Denver signal great success. Our residential population is expanding at unprecedented rates, $2.8 billion is being invested through development projects, we’ve added 6,000 jobs and 23 new companies have relocated to or opened a new office in the center city to grow their business in the last 24 months.”

Downtown Denver’s workforce of 130,227 people has grown at a rate of 17 percent since 2010, outpacing the national rate of 11 percent. Employment is led by new and growing private-sector businesses, where employment is up 21 percent.

Nearly 80,000 people are choosing to live in downtown Denver and its center city neighborhoods. Population in the downtown core has tripled since 2000, and more than 66 percent of downtown residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher.Downtown’s residential renaissance and its growing employee base is encouraging new retail development. Retail sales tax collection is anchored by restaurants, which make up 44 percent of the revenue. 

There is a diverse array of educational opportunities, from traditional universities to coding schools that is helping to build the workforce of the future and ensure downtown businesses have access to top talent. About 58,000 students are being educated in the center city at a variety of educational institutions.

Arts & Venues partners with Meow Wolf on art space effort

Denver Arts & Venues is teaming up with Santa Fe's Meow Wolf to help with the compliance and safety needs of the city's Do-It-Yourself and alternative spaces.

Arts & Venues will contribute $20,000 toward funding the program organized by Meow Wolf, which previously announced plans to distribute $100,000 in annual funding to support safer DIY music and arts venues across the country. Arts & Venue's money will support infrastructural improvements, rent assistance, materials, equipment and other needs identified by Denver applicants. The fund also supports additional resources for legal, zoning and building code consulting services.

"Meow Wolf was an ideal partner for addressing short-term needs while we continue to explore more long-terms opportunities to support safe, creative spaces," says Kent Rice, executive director of Arts & Venuses. "As an artist collective, Meow Wolf has emerged as a leader in the region, working closely with Denver-based artists and reacting quickly to the acute space challenges of artists nationwide with the development of its funding program."

Meow Wolf is collecting applications for Denver-based funding until March 31. 

In addition to Arts & Venues' efforts, Denver Community Planning and Development and the Denver Fire Department have taken steps to support the needs of the arts community. For those seeking to turn an existing warehouse or commercial space into a live/work space, CPD launched a guide that outlines basic steps for establishing a safe and legal live/work space in an existing building. The fire department is offering free inspections for tenants and landlords, who can apply through March 31.

Contact Confluence Denver Development News Editor Margaret Jackson with tips and leads for future stories at margaret@confluence-denver.com.
71 City Park Articles | Page: | Show All
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