A new and unique grant-making approach is being used to provide momentum to revitalize one of Denver’s most historic neighborhoods. Today the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) launched its first-ever Welton Design/Development Challenge, an opportunity for commercial and mixed use residential projects along the primary corridor of the Five Points business district to receive predevelopment funds for planning and design.
The Challenge will award funds to up to three projects in a range of sizes, including individual business owners as well as collaborative proposals from groups of contiguous property owners or other development teams that form around the most exciting ideas. The grants will fund a wide range of possible predevelopment expenses, including architectural renderings, engineering specifications, financial pro formas, environmental reviews and market research. The grants are designed to help support the steps generally required to prove project viability and garner commercial financing.
“Bold, transformational change occurs when intentional public investment meets smart, strategic partnerships,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “This challenge is a creative predevelopment strategy that will work to demonstrate the possibilities of the Welton Corridor to the larger development, investment and retail community. Through this approach, we will honor this historical neighborhood while igniting some real momentum into jobs, housing, and retail for Five Points.”
“With its proximity to downtown, excellent transit, and historical cache, there is no reason that this important corridor can’t be the next retail and housing hot spot,” said Paul Washington, OED executive director.
The Challenge has been designed to maximize these opportunities, actively engage longtime community residents and property owners, and encourage bold ideas with the support they need to become reality, Washington said. OED is forming a panel of judges, including planners, developers, bankers, architects and community stakeholders, to review all proposals.
In this unique funding approach, awarded projects will initially receive 25% of their estimated predevelopment costs, and earn the remaining 75% following the completion of an application for construction financing. In all, OED has dedicated $500,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding to the Challenge and expects to fund between one and three projects for up to $175,000.
The timing of the project reflects a genuine urgency, Washington said. The application deadline for this first Welton Challenge is October 28, 2013, with up to three winners to be announced by November 16, 2013. With the capacity of a predevelopment grant to engage developers, architects and engineers as needed, the projects are expected to take shape within about a year. “We know from other neighborhood initiatives that two or three outstanding projects can truly spark a chain reaction of inspired development,” he said.
Projects must be located along Welton Street, from 20th to 30th Streets.
For more information on the Welton Design/Development Challenge, including the city’s formal RFP, visit www.denvergov.org/OED.
Note: The deadline to submit applications has been expended, per addendum no. 3, to December 2, 2013.