Affordable housing coming to property seized from anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce

The convicted felon let the Cole property decay, and now a nonprofit wants to revive it.
2 min. read
The future site of affordable housing in Cole, Jan. 29, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Kevin J. Beaty

You may have seen the decaying pink and tan houses along York Street at 37th Avenue, with windows that are sealed with plywood or altogether shattered.

Nonprofit Mile High Ministries aims to build about 80 homes on the land -- half of them attainable for lower-income Denverites -- on the full city block bound by York, Gaylord Street, 37th, and 38th Avenue.

Douglas Bruce, who invented Colorado's restrictive Taxpayer Bill of Rights law and later went to jail for tax evasion, owned the Cole property but let it rot for years before it was seized and sold. He owed more than $1 million in liens and fines for dereliction.

The dilapidated houses were razed two weeks ago. City Councilman Albus Brooks, who represents the district, said they were more than just an eyesore. The abandoned homes were a trouble spot for crime and represented the top reason for calls to police in Cole and Clayton last year, he said.

"We don't know the exact year, but its probably been about 40 years that it's been a blight to the community by someone we all know, Mr. Douglas Bruce," said City Councilman Albus Brooks, who represents the district.

(Denver Department of Community Planning and Development)

The Denver City Council's Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday advanced new rules for the site that will allow apartment buildings of three and five stories, with "community centers" and light retail on the ground-floor.

Half of the units will be priced for households making between 30 and 80 percent of the area median income. For one person, that's about $19,000 annually at the low end and about $50,000 on the high end.

Cole is a neighborhood where "new residents are increasing and residents are vulnerable to displacement," city planner Liz Weigle told elected officials.

Mile High Ministries does not technically own the land yet. It's being held by a fiscal sponsor, TYL Foundation, but the nonprofit hopes to gain ownership next month, according to Brooks. Mile High Ministries did not return requests for comment by the publishing deadline.

Tuesday was a big day for Cole, which also all but solidified a grocery store on another impending full-block development.

This article was updated to correct the number of housing units being built.

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