The Salvation Army’s western U.S. headquarters and scores of homes for families transitioning out of homelessness, along with a new community center, appear destined for a chunk of West Alameda Avenue in Barnum.
On Monday, Denver City Council voted 12 to 0 to rezone the area, allowing the buildings on Alameda between Vrain and Stuart streets. The new campus will replace an existing community center, a chapel and a house on about five acres of land that the charity has owned for 45 years. Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca did not vote.
The three buildings will rise up to three stories and help families bridge the gap between being homeless and being housed, said Rachael Fowler, a Salvation Army spokesperson. Families will be able to stay at up to 85 apartments for three months while receiving job training at the new community center that will also house a food pantry, after-school programs, a gym, and a chapel. The charity will help tenants find jobs and permanent homes and will help pay for a deposit on a place to live.
“We do full-on case management with these families,” Fowler said.
People in the neighborhood who aren’t tenants will also be able to use the community center.
“Together we can provide life-transforming services to our neighbors,” said Richard Pease, the project manager with Salvation Army.
A skeptical Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval grilled representatives of the Salvation Army during a public hearing Monday night. She suggested that the nonprofit could sell the property to developers because the rezoning only informs what can be built, not what must be built. Sandoval ultimately voted for the rezoning but not before rebuking the organization for failing to sign a development agreement that locked in their intent.
“It doesn’t seem like it would be above and beyond anything of the mission of the Salvation Army,” Sandoval said.
The Silvercrest Apartments, a 5-story Salvation Army complex for older adults already on the property, will complement the campus. The Salvation Army has a similar operation in Sloan’s Lake that last year helped 79 families, 98 percent of which moved onto permanent or “stable” housing, Fowler said.
In addition to the socioeconomic mission of the project, the charity’s administrative headquarters for the western U.S. will move to west Denver from Capitol Hill. It covers Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and eastern Montana.
Fowler estimates that the project will cost $60 million. She can’t yet say when the nonprofit will break ground.
“It’ll probably take us a few years to raise the money and then a few years to build the buildings, so, I mean, it’ll be a few years,” Fowler said. “We don’t have an exact timeline on that yet.”
About a third of the money will come from selling the Cap Hill headquarters, Fowler said.
This article was updated to change “permanent housing” to “permanent and stable housing.”