Construction on a tiny home village for women and transgender individuals in the Cole neighborhood will start in late July, with residents expected to start moving in in September.
Cole Chandler, director of the Colorado Village Collaborative, outlined that schedule for what would be his nonprofit’s second tiny home village during a neighborhood meeting Thursday. Chandler said the project would bring “light and life” to what is now a vacant lot bounded by York and Gaylord streets and 37th and 38th avenues.
Eventually, the tiny home village with 14 living units will leave, making way at the site for 161 apartments and 17 for-sale town homes for low- and moderate-income households and a commercial building with a preschool. The homes will be built around the tiny home village, which will move when the commercial building goes up, said Jeff Johnsen, whose Mile High Ministries is leading the development of the permanent housing project called Clara Brown Commons. Clara Brown was a former slave who made her way after the Civil War from Virginia to Colorado, where she became a successful businesswoman and helped other former slaves start new lives.
Johnsen invited the Colorado Village Collaborative to use the site for tiny homes until Clara Brown Commons housing is finished. Johnsen, who joined Chandler in Thursday’s video conference community meeting, said Mile High Ministries was still raising funds, and the permanent housing was at least two years away from completion.
Johnsen also noted during the community meeting that a small homelessness encampment had appeared at the site. He said he was working with the Colorado Village Collaborative to find other housing, perhaps at the existing tiny home village, for the campers.
Colorado Village Collaborative piloted Denver’s first tiny home village as an alternative to traditional shelters and a bridge to permanent housing, starting in 2017 on private land near the 38th & Blake RTD commuter rail station. The group’s Beloved Community Village moved last year to 4400 N. Pearl St. in Globeville because the first site was slated for a below-market-rate housing development.
The move to Globeville came over the objections of some neighbors. City Council had to approve the contract with Beloved Community Village because the city owns 4400 N. Pearl St. The site proposed for the women’s village is privately owned.
Council recently adopted zoning rules to clarify the process for establishing temporary tiny home villages. A council vote on the proposed women’s village is not necessary under the new zoning rules.
The new rules require sponsors of tiny home villages to tell neighbors about their plans, but do not give neighbors veto power over projects that meet city criteria. Under the new rules, groups such as Colorado Village Collaborative have to hold at least one community meeting before they submit an application to erect a tiny home village. Thursday’s was the second community meeting about the Cole project and Chandler said more were planned.
The congregation at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church had offered to host a tiny village for women in its parking lot at 2015 Glenarm Pl. in the Clements Historic District, but the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission blocked that project in 2018 on the grounds that it had no historical precedent. A revision of landmark regulations approved by the City Council last year removed from the landmark commission authority over temporary structures such as short-term tiny home villages.