Past Projects

Overview

Denver has a strong history of providing assistance to developers with environmental information for their sites, technical assistance, and help locating funding sources. Successfully completed projects are located throughout the city, featuring affordable housing and mixed-use development. 

The Brownfields program empowers the city, neighborhood communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. Revitalizing brownfield sites creates benefits throughout the community.

A study completed for EPA in 2020 looked at the environmental benefits of brownfield site redevelopment. The study found that when housing and job growth is accommodated by redeveloping existing brownfields sites, the expansion of paved impervious surfaces and average vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per capita/per job are reduced as compared to accommodating the same amount of growth on previously undeveloped sites.

Here you will find information about five brownfield redevelopment projects completed in the City and County of Denver and the surrounding areas.

Central Platte Campus

CentralPlatteCampus_EnvironmentalImpactAward.jpg

Located adjacent to the South Platte River, the former General Chemical site operated as a chemical manufacturing and mining ore processing facility from the 1880s through recent years. The site was acquired and cleaned up by the city, in collaboration with International Risk Group, to create a new centralized Denver Department of Transportation & Infrastructure (DOTI) facility and an animal shelter. The project received a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (CBRLF) for environmental cleanup made possible from additional funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The site was recognized as a 2011 Brownfields Renewal Award Winner for Environmental Impact and a Phoenix Award for Region 8.  

a photo of the Central Platte campus before redevelopment          image of the Central Platte Campus after redevelopment

 

Background

The Central Platte Campus is a 33-acre site located near I-25 and Alameda on the site of the former General Chemical plant, which was used for over 100 years for mineral processing and chemical manufacturing. The resulting contamination consisted of heavy metals and acid generating waste. Denver entered into a contract to purchase the property in 2007 with IRG Bayaud, who initiated a state-approved cleanup plan on the city’s behalf. The cleanup plan generally consisted of removal of “hot spot” areas – areas most heavily contaminated, capping areas where waste remains in place to reduce infiltration through contaminated soils and subsequently contaminate the groundwater, and groundwater monitoring. The City acquired title to the property in 2009.

The purpose for the City’s acquisition was to provide better access for its Wastewater Management Building and to consolidate the City’s Wastewater and other DOTI operations into a centralized location from various satellite locations. In addition, the campus houses the Denver Animal Shelter

Colfax Mainstreet Coalition

The Colfax Mainstreet Coalition is a collaboration among the City and County of Denver, the City of Lakewood, and the Denver Urban Renewal Authority. The Coalition conducted environmental site assessments and cleanup planning activities at 23 brownfield sites within the 17-mile Colfax Avenue corridor in Denver and Lakewood. Between 2012 and 2016, the Coalition used its EPA brownfields assessment grant funds to conduct environmental assessments of the selected sites to determine presence and extent of potential environmental conditions impacting selected sites within the corridor, shown in figures below, by identifying contaminants, remediation needs, and environmental costs. Through the grant program process, the Coalition was able to identify actual environmental risks and clean-up strategies to encourage reinvestment in sites by removing the uncertainty associated with blighted properties and pave the way for reinvestment.

The Colfax Mainstreet Coalition completed 17 brownfield projects in Denver and six brownfields in Lakewood. The Denver brownfield projects received $700,000 in total grant funding. The average grant expenditure per brownfield site was $41,000; these investments were estimated to help create 1,200 permanent jobs and 367 affordable housing units, among other fiscal and economic benefits.

Map of the west side of the Colfax Mainstreet Coalition projectMap of the east side of the Colfax Mainstreet Coalition project

View the Colfax Mainstreet Coalition final grant report*(PDF, 7MB)
*If you have trouble reading any part of this report, please contact Dave Wilmoth (dave.wilmoth@denvergo.org) to request a hard copy

 

Mariposa District Redevelopment (formerly South Lincoln)

South Lincoln site before revitalizationMariposa District is owned and managed by Denver Housing Authority (DHA) and contained 270 public housing units originally built in 1953 on 15.1 acres in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood and within walking distance of the 10th and Osage RTD light rail station.  DHA redeveloped the site to include a mix of housing products and a range of income levels including market rate, subsidized affordable housing, and public housing.  New economic opportunities foster a sustainable community and Transit Oriented Development that serve a broad resident base. The first phase of redevelopment occurred on an adjacent brownfield that the City purchased and remediated using $310,000 EPA Brownfield grants and City funds.

South Lincoln site after revitalization In collaboration with Denver’s Brownfields Program and using $110,000 in funds from an EPA Brownfields environmental assessment grant and $200,000 in EPA Brownfields cleanup grant, Denver Department of Public Health & Environment conducted a subsurface soil and groundwater assessment and asbestos building survey of existing building on behalf of DHA to gasp the environmental conditions and to inform DHA’s redevelopment plans.

Quick facts:

  • DHA-Denver partnership
  • TOD development
  • Highlights successful brownfields cleanup by city and catalyst for neighborhood revitalization
  • Funds leverage: $325K EPA Brownfields grants, HOPE VI, EPA green infrastructure technical assistance grant, Denver CDBG funding
  • Outcomes: 15 acre (four city blocks) neighborhood revitalization, three-fold increased density, new neighborhood services

 

Mile High Vista (formerly the Avondale site)

image of the Mile High Vista site before redevelopment In partnership with the City and County of Denver, Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) purchased a two acre portion of an underutilized shopping center for redevelopment at the gateway to West Colfax Avenue and near the future Knox and Decatur light rail stations. The development includes the new Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales Branch Library, a mixed-use workforce housing development with Del Norte Neighborhood Development (a non-profit affordable housing developer), and a commercial building. As part of redevelopment, ULC addressed environmental conditions from a gas station and asbestos in soils issues which Denver and ULC collaborated and developed the approach for the investigation and cleanup. The Colorado Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund, to which Denver is a board member, awarded ULC $500,000 in a grant and low-interest loan to address environmental cleanup.

image of the Mile High Vista site after redevelopment Quick facts:

  • ULC-Denver partnership
  • Funds leveraged: $2.4M TOD Fund, $500K Brownfields RLF
  • Outcomes: new library, affordable housing
  • Opportunity: West Corridor TOD development, gateway improvement to West Colfax, catalytic site for further redevelopment

 

South Platte RiverPlace Initiative (SPRI)

kids holding crawdads in the South Platte RiverThe South Platte RiverPlace Initiative (SPRI) was a project designed to restore and develop the 11-mile stretch of the South Platte River that runs through the City & County of Denver. Denver has been working for years to ensure that the South Platte River Corridor is effectively restored and preserved as a natural resource, an economic driver for the surrounding low-income neighborhoods, and a regional amenity. 

In 2015, the Denver Brownfields Program was awarded a $400,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to launch the SPRI, which funded environmental assessments of approximately 12 brownfields sites along the corridor. The SPRI transformed the river corridor into a vital community resource where access to nature, economic development, housing, and a rail transit system contribute to the sustainability and livability of the area. Six projects within this area were completed.

Opportunities from the SPRI were a follow-on to the South Platte Corridor Study (Part 1(PDF, 8MB) and Part 2(PDF, 11MB) ), a brownfields area-wide plan that contains conceptual site development layouts that integrate river redevelopment with a range of river greenway improvements.

A map of the South Platte Initiative area running north to south in Denver along I25

View the SPRI final grant report*(PDF, 18MB)
*If you have trouble reading any part of this report, please contact Dave Wilmoth (dave.wilmoth@denvergov.org) to request a hard copy