Here’s the plan for affordable housing at that former East Colfax strip club site

The city wants to help build an 82-unit apartment complex on the site.
4 min. read
A closed strip club on East Colfax, 8315 E. Colfax Ave. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

PT's All Nude II on East Colfax hasn't seen much action since the strip club closed in 2016.

That changed on Wednesday for the dormant site, after a city council committee got the ball rolling on a project the city has been considering for years. The committee unanimously voted to forward a plan to the full City Council to issue $15.4 million in bonds and to lend $3.5 million to an affordable housing developer to build a 82-unit affordable housing complex on the site, which sits in the East Colfax neighborhood.

The complex would take up two vacant lots at 1510 Valentia St. and 8315 East Colfax Ave. The city bought the land in 2017 using money from the city's Affordable Housing Fund. The apartment complex, called the Rose on Colfax, will be built by affordable housing developer Mercy Housing, which was picked to develop the site after a bidding process.

The city sold the land to Mercy Housing in April for $10 with an agreement requiring affordability for housing built there. Housing Development Officer Nick Emenhiser said the land is valued at roughly $1.4 million.

"This is a very unique project -- in the grand scheme of things --  because we have, through a series of processes, acquired a blighted former strip club on East Colfax and are in the process of developing into affordable housing," Emenhiser said during Wednesday's meeting.

A rendering of the apartment complex called The Rose on Colfax. (Courtesy of the City and County of Denver)

The 5-story, 119,000 square foot building would be mixed-use and include an early childhood education center on the ground floor.

All units in the apartment complex will be available for people making between 70 percent to 30 percent of median area income. This means at the high end, a single person can't make more than $51,380 a year, while at the lower end, an individual person can't make more than $22,020. This affordability would be restricted for 60 years.

The complex would include 30 one-bedroom, 28 two-bedroom, 22 three-bedroom and two four-bedroom apartments.

Monica Martinez, executive director The Fax Partnership, knows the project well. Her agency supports adding housing, improving transit options and supporting local businesses along the busy corridor. She helped convince the former strip club property owner to sell to the city, roughly two years after someone was killed there.

Martinez said adding a childcare center to the building is something this part of the city needs. The complex will be next to one of the busiest transit corridors in the city, and give working-class folks a chance to live here, she added.

"That's what we want to see from this corridor," Martinez said. "More of that living on the corridor and maybe shedding that extra car."

That $15.4 million in bonds would come in the form of private activity bonds, which are different than the general obligation bonds, like the ones on the ballot this fall requiring voter approval. Private activity bonds have been used by the city to pay for other large affordable housing complexes like the Park Hill Village West and 2300 Welton, according to the city's finance department. Emenhiser said private activity bonds don't impact the city's overall debt.

The $3.5 million loan will come from the city's Department of Housing Stability's budget. Department spokesperson Derek Woodbury said the city doesn't develop affordable housing directly; rather, it partners with nonprofit organizations like Mercy Housing or private developers to build this kind of housing.

Developers are hoping people could start moving into the Rose on Colfax by February 2023. Emenhiser said the entire project will cost about $31 million to complete.

The full council will vote on the funding in mid-September.

This story has been updated to update the Fax Partnership's name. 

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