Structural problem shuts down The GrowHaus building indefinitely

Operations have had to move to a rec center, a library and other sites.

GrowHaus in Elyria-Swansea. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

GrowHaus in Elyria-Swansea. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Donna Bryson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The GrowHaus, which ensures that struggling families can get fresh food, has had to move its operations to a rec center, a library and other sites after structural problems led to the indefinite closure of its home in an eight-decade-old Elyria-Swansea greenhouse.

The GrowHaus is not that building,” Kayla Birdsong, the nonprofit’s executive director, said in an interview Thursday. “We are a group of people that are part of the community, and we are here to stay.”

She said upgrades had been planned for the building, a nearly 80-year-old greenhouse at 4751 York St.

“The structural issues came to our attention as we were embarking on some of those upgrades,” she said, adding the problems were not linked to the work going on nearby on Interstate 70.

“Out of concern for the safety of our community and staff, The GrowHaus’ Board temporarily closed the building until we could learn more” after the problem was discovered in early February, Birdsong and her board wrote in a statement. “After further engineering tests and analysis, it was confirmed that the building’s structure does not fully meet city requirements for stability and safety.”

Since then, farming at 4751 York St. has ceased. Office work has continued and classes have been held nearby at the Johnson Recreation Center, but the city halted all programming there on Thursday because of the novel coronavirus. The nearby Valdez-Perry Branch Library also has helped The GrowHaus out.

Focus Points Family Resource Center, a community development nonprofit at 2501 E 48th Ave., has been hosting the weekly free grocery that had been open at GrowHaus every Monday for the last six years. Food boxes have been distributed from a warehouse on Brighton Boulevard. GrowHaus navigators that distribute food and offer health advice are continuing home visits.

“Today we are all over the place,” Birdsong said, speaking by mobile phone from her car.

“Everyone’s reaching out, saying, ‘How can I support?'” Birdsong said, adding that even small donations were appreciated.

Birdsong said her organization was studying its long-term options, which include moving or having extensive renovations done to 4751 York.

The GrowHaus bought the building a decade ago and has been serving primarily Globeville and Elyria-Swansea since.

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