In November 2007, the MacArthur Foundation
announced that it would provide $35 million for public sector initiatives to preserve and improve affordable rental housing. This funding was part of a national $150 million initiative, Window of Opportunity: Preserving Affordable Rental Housing. The Foundation received eighty Letters of Interest. From this pool, the Foundation invited 21 applicants to submit full proposals. As the partners awaited word from the MacArthur Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners
worked to line up other potential investors. In March 2009, the group received notification that the MacArthur Foundation had chosen to grant the project a $2.25 million and the Denver Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Fund was able to become a reality.
The purpose of the Denver TOD Fund is to support the creation and preservation of over 1,000 affordable housing units through strategic property acquisition in current and future transit corridors. The partners in this effort recognize that now is the opportune time to invest in real estate around proposed transit stations in order to capitalize on current values and preserve affordable pricing before the FasTracks light rail is fully operational.
The current fund will revolve to make up to $25 million in capital available to purchase and hold sites for up to five years in anticipation of the opening of new transit stations. The investment of $25 million will leverage over $100 million in local economic development activity, serving many of Denver
’s lowest income neighborhoods with construction and permanent job creation. The Fund will also directly benefit low-income households that on average spend 60% of their gross income on housing and transportation expenses combined. By controlling these expenses and providing access to quality, environmentally-sustainable housing, the TOD
Fund will make it possible for families to build wealth, and access employment and educational opportunities; it will provide employers with access to an expanded workforce.
Since the Fund was made available in April 2010, ULC has acquired two properties, expects to close on a third by the end of 2010, and is under contract to acquire a fourth property. These four properties account for almost $6 million TOD Funds invested to acquire property for affordable housing preservation or new construction development.
Thus far, ULC has utilized Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds to leverage the TOD Fund to preserve and rehabilitate a 36-unit property in northeast Denver, and has secured 4.6 acres of land at three different locations adjacent to or near light rail stations that will accommodate at least 202 newly constructed apartment homes serving households at or below 60% area median income, with approximately 15% serving households at or below 30% area median income.
One property is immediately adjacent to the Yale Street light rail station, one is near the Evans light rail station, and one is along Colfax Avenue and within walking distance to two West rail corridor light rail stops at Decatur Street and Knox Street. The Colfax site serves as the gateway between downtown Denver and west Denver and it will be home to a mixed-use development of approximately 70 affordable apartment homes, a small commercial building, and a new library being built by the City of Denver which is scheduled to open in 2012.
ULC is currently focused on opportunities along the existing light rail corridors, along the West rail corridor, and along West Colfax Avenue and other high frequency bus corridors.
Role of DOSP
DOSP combined $2 million of its Xcel Energy Franchise funds with $500,000 from other funds through the Office of Economic Development to make up the City of Denver's $2.5 million investment in the top loss position in this fund. DOSP also serves on the Oversight Committee, works with partners to seek opportunities for expanded funding for the project, and promotes the TOD Fund on a local and national level.
For More Information
If you would like to discuss a potential property, please contact Debra Bustos, Director of Real Estate at the Urban Land Conservancy, 303-454-5369, firstname.lastname@example.org