At least one property owner in Elyria-Swansea is responding to the concerns about displacement in the neighborhood as infrastructure projects like the National Western Center get underway in north Denver.
HRW Holdings Inc. filed an application last week to rezone a quarter of an acre near East 44th Avenue and North Josephine Street that would allow for a small apartment building with below-market rents. If approved, the project would be a drop in the bucket for the hundreds of residents facing economic pressures in Elyria-Swansea.
“The initial proposal calls for a 12- to 16-unit, multi-story apartment building as workforce housing with affordable rate rents,” said Laura Swartz, spokeswoman for Denver Community Planning and Development.
During the last two years, property values in the area jumped 60 percent, largely as a result of the National Western Center project, according to the Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center.
HRW Holdings has not filed an official site plan for the project yet, Swartz said. A call to the Denver-based company, registered to Hasena Williams, was not immediately returned Wednesday. Property records show HRW purchased the property at 4001 N. Josephine St. in August for $250,000.
“We are excited about the opportunity to provide a housing option for people who may not necessarily live below the poverty line and those who are not high enough income earners to live in luxury rentals. We feel there is a tremendous affordable housing shortage and are hoping to do our part to help solve the problem,” Williams wrote in the rezoning application.
The application asks for zoning that would allow for three-story apartments or two-and-a-half-story rowhomes. The current zoning for the site allows for only two, two-and-a-half-story units to be on the property.
“The proposed rezoning is justified by changing circumstances in the Swansea neighborhood. Due to nearby redevelopment and growth of National Western Complex and Interstate-70, residential housing is
starting to diminish,” Williams wrote in the proposal.
As of 2015, Elyria-Swansea had 6,676 residents, and 31.2 percent of them were living in poverty. The neighborhood is more diverse and less wealthy than the city overall, according to the Denver-based Piton Foundation.
The application did not specify the income range to which rents will be targeted. Some community activists have raised concerns that even “affordable” housing is out of reach for low-income households in the neighborhood.
Williams’ proposal falls within a larger push to bring affordable housing options to Globeville and Elyria-Swansea.
The Denver Office of Economic Development is providing financing for Habitat for Humanity to acquire property at Elizabeth Street and East 43rd Avenue. For-sale housing is planned for the site, OED wrote last month in a memo on affordable housing.
This summer the GES Coalition Organizing for Health and Housing Justice announced plans to start a community land trust to help preserve affordable housing in the area. The group would need millions of dollars to make that happen.
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