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Affordable Housing Takes Root at Union Station

The building is scheduled for completion in 2017.

The developers of Ashley Union Station seek to offset Denver's rapidly rising rents with 75 below-market apartments.
The Integral Group recently broke ground on Ashley Union Station, a mixed-income rental development at 18th Street and Chestnut Place in LoDo.

The project, one of the last opportunities to secure affordability in the Union Station transit-oriented development area, will have 107 apartments, including 75 units for low- and moderate-income households.

"It's critically important that residents of all income levels benefit from the new housing that is quickly sprouting in the Denver Union Station area," says Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. "A new community is literally rising in the Central Platte Valley, and we're proud to say that hard-working families can access urban living within steps of our major transit hub, benefiting from connections to the entire metro area."

It's a much-needed development. As construction around the newly redeveloped Union Station boomed, rents in Denver were up about 10 percent in 2015, with the city center experiencing especially high demand for affordable housing. As of year's end, monthly rents around Union Station started at about $1,500 for one-bedroom units and $2,000 for two bedrooms.

Designed by Denver's RNL, the four-story building will include one- and two-bedroom units, as well as partially covered parking and a ground-level retail space. The project will incorporate significant energy efficiency measures, complying with the Enterprise Green Communities Standards.

The $30 million project is receiving financing from several public and private sources, including the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED). The Denver Housing Authority (DHA) is a general partner. The project is expected to be completed by early 2017.

Diverse options

Along with 32 market-rate apartments, 34 units will be available to households earning 60 percent or less of the area median income, or up to $43,200 for a family of three. Another 34 units will be offered to households earning 50 percent or less of the area median income and seven units are reserved for households making up to 30 percent of area median income.

"The best neighborhoods in Denver have a diversity of housing options," says Ismael Guerrero, DHA's executive director. "We're excited to be creating affordable housing options in the Union Station neighborhood with our partners at Integral and OED."

The city provided $2.3 million in financing from its general fund, plus a $950,000 loan from the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance special revenue fund, to support the development. DHA added $2.75 million to support land acquisition and is also providing a 70-year lease to The Integral Group. Other financing partners include the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, the Colorado Division of Housing and Enterprise Community Partners.

"Ashley Union Station will provide much-needed affordable housing at the heart of the Denver Union Station redevelopment area," says Vicki Lundy Wilbon, president of community development for The Integral Group. "The vibrancy of the surrounding area will serve to enhance the living experience of the residents, who can literally work, play and live within a few city blocks."

Read more articles by Margaret Jackson.

Margaret is a veteran Denver real estate reporter and can be contacted here.
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