Green housing community’s grand opening



  • Grand opening of Aria Denver at 9 a.m. today, Aug.21
  • Aria Denver is a sustainable community in northwest Denver.
  • C0-op and commercial uses coming.


An artist's rendering of Aria Denver.

An artist’s rendering of Aria Denver.

A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for 9 a.m. today for the Aria Denver community on a 17.5-acre site that was formerly the Convent of the Sisters of St. Francis in northwest Denver.


Mayor Michael B. Hancock and developer Susan Powers at Aria's groundbreaking.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock and developer Susan Powers test their green thumbs.

The community at West 52nd Avenue and Decatur Street is one of the stops on this year’s Parade of Homes.

The apartments and and town homes represent the first phase of Denver’s newest urban infill, mixed-use, mixed-income, green community. When completed in 2017, it will have a total of about 400 rental and for-sale units, including townhomes priced from $290,000 to $425,000.

Speakers at today’s ground breaking include Doug Smith, Denver’s Director of Housing; Susan Powers, president of Denver-based Urban Ventures; and Chuck Perry and Jonathan F. P. Rose, principal of Perry Rose. Urban Ventures and Perry Rose are the developers.

Powers and Perry bought the site in May 2012.

“Chuck and I look at this development as an opportunity to create something very different than exists in the area, partially because of the location and history of the site,” Power said.

“The adjacency to Regis University has allowed us to work with them on many initiatives and we’re finding more every day,” she continued.

“The fact that this was a convent and was home to these remarkable women for over 60 years who devoted their lives to the service of others stays with us every day, so we feel an extra responsibility to do the “right” thing on the land.”

Perry developed Aria Apartments, which opened on Aug. 1, and are already filled. Rents range from $400 to $1,000 a month.

Townhomes snapped up quickly

Urban Ventures developed the first phase of townhomes, kicking off with four. Three have been sold and were occupied in the past few weeks. Powers is keeping one as a model.

“We are going to start construction of the next nine units in the next month and decided to be part of the Parade of Homes (for the first time in my life) because I wanted to get people to the site since it has been a convent historically and most people don’t think of it as a new neighborhood,” Power said.

The response to them has been so strong she wished she built all 13 at once. She had expected to have a few of the initial four available to sell.

“We’ve had great traffic through the project and since we’re so well priced, it seems to be well received,” Powers said. The units range in size from 966 square feet to 1,367 square feet and are priced from about $305,000 to the $400,000s.  All of the units have basements and one has a carriage-unit of about 550 square feet above the garage. The carriage unit, behind the front of the townhome, can be rented.

“We intentionally designed the units to be compact which is consistent with what we have heard people want — to simplify their life and allow them to live in a neighborhood where they know their neighbors and want to be involved with many community activities,” Powers said.

Commercial Corner

Aria Denver’s developers plan to create a commercial corner at West 52nd Avenue and Federal Boulevard, which will include a wellness center, fresh food store, coffee shop, green dry cleaner and restaurants. The project’s location across the street from Regis University provides opportunities for continuing education.

The neighborhood will eventually include co-housing and pocket neighborhoods, reflecting the developers’ commitment to building an intentional community where people and families can interact and share a healthy, fulfilling life style.

“The fact that the Aria Apartments were filled in less than a month shows the incredible need for affordable housing in Denver,” Smith said. “The city hopes to be able to continue to finance mixed-income developments like Aria Apartments and the Aria Townhomes to create and enhance strong vibrant neighborhoods in Denver.”

The Aria Denver apartments have been designed to achieve a LEED for Homes, Gold Rating, and meet Enterprise Green Communities Standards. In addition, the apartments include a 65 KW solar array to further reduce energy costs. The solar project will produce 91,000 KW of renewable energy each year, the equivalent of CO2 emissions produced annually by 10 average homes.

Went to a garden party

A portion of the site has been set aside for community gardens, providing residents and commercial tenants an opportunity to grow much of their own produce. A garden already in place produces fresh vegetables for sale at nominal cost, with the remainder donated to Warren Village and area food banks. The developers recently expressed their gratitude for the support of Mayor Michael B. Hancock, the Denver City Council and the Denver Urban Renewal Authority in implementing the garden project.

Powers said it is a “serious” garden. “We harvested 80 pounds of vegetables last week,” she crowed.

Aria's apartments.

Aria’s apartments.

Dakar Gibbs of Bank of America, which financed the Aria Apartments and purchased the project’s low income housing tax credits, had this to say: “It has been a pleasure to work with Perry Rose on this project. The apartments were built on time and on budget. Perry Rose handled all elements of the project in a highly efficient and professional manner. Bank of America appreciates working with experienced developers to create much needed affordable and workforce housing for Denver.“

Rose described the Aria Apartments as the next generation of green affordable housing serving families earning 30 percent to 60 percent of Denver’s annual median income.

“There is a strong demand for affordable housing in Denver, where more people from all income and age groups are choosing to live in well-located, environmentally responsible communities. Aria Denver is proud to be one of the first of many such projects in our city,” Rose said.

In many ways, the fledgling Aria community is as spiritual as when it was a convent.

At least that’s how Powers sees it.

“This may all sound corny, but there is just something special about the place and now that we have people living on it, it feels like we’re really heading in the right direction.”

Interested in buying a home in the Regis neighborhood? Please visit

Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at is sponsored by Universal Lending, Land Title Guarantee and 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.


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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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