The City and County of Denver has paid $985,000 to the Urban Land Conservancy for land at West Colfax Avenue and Irving Street in order to begin construction of the long-anticipated Denver Public Library branch in West Denver.
The library parcel, located at a site known as Mile High Vista, is a 0.86-acre portion of the two-acre area purchased by ULC in March 2011 using Denver’s Transit-Oriented Development Fund. The purchase is part of a long-term collaboration between the city and the ULC.
The TOD Fund was set up specifically for acquiring land near existing or future light rail stops and/or near high frequency bus routes for the preservation and creation of affordable housing and community assets. Mile High Vista is located within a quarter-mile of both the Knox and the Federal/Decatur light rail stations, scheduled to open in 2013.
ULC purchased Mile High Vista with the long-term goal of providing a site for a much-needed library on Denver’s west side, as well as developing workforce housing and affordable commercial space.
In addition to the $985,000, purchase price, the city will pay a proportionate share of the infrastructure costs on the land.
The money will be used to pay down the TOD Fund, making these funds available to revolve into other Denver-based TOD projects. The purchase of the land and construction of the new branch library is made possible by the Denver’s voter-approved Better Denver Bond Program.
All of these development goals align with ULC’s mission to use real estate as a tool for community benefit. The location near light rail further aligns with goals to ensure that affordable and mixed-income housing near transit is available to improve the health and the quality of life for residents in metro Denver. In addition, a Mi Pueblo grocery is planned for property adjacent to Mile High Vista and is expected to open in the next few months.
“The new library will be a great example of how nonprofits can successfully partner with local government to accomplish more for communities,” said ULC’s CEO and president, Aaron Miripol. “We are thrilled to be a part of this catalytic development and new economic driver for the West Colfax area.”
I n 2011, the Denver Public Library and its architect, Studiotrope Design Collective, held three community meetings to gather input on the function and design of the new branch library expected to break ground in summer 2012.
“We are very excited about opening a new branch library in this area,” said city librarian, Shirley Amore. “The community has been amazing with helping us design and envision a place where people of all ages will be able to gather, learn, create, and share ideas.”
ULC recently sold another portion of Mile High Vista to Del Norte Neighborhood Development Corp., a nonprofit organization that develops and manages workforce housing. Del Norte purchased 0.84 acres for the construction of a 60-unit workforce housing development as well as affordable commercial space for a daycare and nonprofit offices. ULC will develop a commercial building at Mile High Vista once the library and housing components are constructed.
ULC is a nonprofit organization established in 2003 that preserves real estate for community benefit. In addition to Mile High Vista, ULC has made 15 real estate investments and currently owns 12 properties in the Denver area, including nonprofit centers, community centers and affordable housing developments.