Urban Land Conservancy Acquires Land on Future East Rail Line
Park Hill Village West development will include 156 permanently affordable apartments
By Christi Longsdorf, ULC
The Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), in partnership with The Piton Foundation and Gary Community Investment Company (GCIC), City of Denver and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), purchased 9.4 acres of land at Smith Road and Colorado Boulevard in Northeast Park Hill to develop 156 permanently affordable apartments and additional assets to benefit the community. This is ULC’s largest land purchase and the largest acquisition using Denver’s $15 million Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Fund, the country’s first fund created specifically to preserve and develop affordable housing near public transit.
The property, called Park Hill Village West (PHVW), is located in an area of northeast Denver where many families lack access to affordable housing, high-performing schools and quality healthcare. ULC is working in partnership with The Piton Foundation and recently formed GCIC, to ensure community development occurs along the commuter rail line that will link historically isolated neighborhoods with better access to jobs, education, health care and other services.
“This first investment by Gary Community Investment Company is representative of our intention to augment the philanthropic strategy of Piton with a set of investment and business development strategies that promise a brighter future for children living in the Denver low-income communities that we have been focused on for decades,” said Sam Gary, founder of Piton and GCIC.
PHVW is located at the 40th and Colorado station on the East rail line of FasTracks. This commuter rail travels through an area of Denver that Piton has targeted because the neighborhoods are home to nearly 35,000 children living in poverty. The East Rail Line, which is currently under construction, is expected to open in 2016 and run between Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport.
“Not only will 156 new affordable homes be built at this rail station, ULC sees this as a model for community-driven real estate development. Our partnership with the City of Denver and HUD provides the opportunity for new housing, and Piton and GCIC will work with us to address a variety of community needs, making this a truly transformational development,” said Debra Bustos, director of real estate for ULC.
ULC financed $3.7 million of the $6 million acquisition using Denver’s TOD Fund. PHVW is the eighth transaction ULC has made using the fund since it was capitalized in 2010. These acquisitions have preserved or created 625 affordable homes along high-frequency bus and rail corridors. Enterprise Community Partners administers the TOD Fund, and is currently working to expand the fund to become a regional resource for affordable housing development along transit.
“This is a rare opportunity to acquire a large site adjacent to a future commuter rail stop,” noted Melinda Pollack, vice president at Enterprise. “PHVW allows us to create a model, mixed-income and mixed-use community where residents will have access to jobs, education, healthcare and other critical needs without depending on an automobile. This is exactly the kind of development that the TOD Fund was designed to catalyze.”
Urban Land Conservancy, urbanlandc.org, is a nonprofit real estate organization created to preserve and develop assets for community benefit. Enterprise, enterprisecommunity.com, is a nonprofit provider of development capital for affordable housing. The Piton Foundation, piton.org, is a private foundation dedicated to improving the life chances of low-income children. Gary Community Investment Company, garycic.com, is an impact investing firm founded in 2012 to use capital investment strategies in support of The Piton Foundation.