Apartments and commercial space may be coming to a dirt plot at 2821 to 2841 Welton Street in Five Points, across the street from Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center and small businesses.
The site, which once housed a barber shop, a gallery and single-family houses, has been empty for years and was recently dug up and flattened. The Boulder architecture firm DTJ Design has turned in concept plans for a future mixed-use residential and commercial development.
If approved by the city, the project, from developer stok Investment Group, would include 114 units that are on average 400 square feet each, 40 parking spots, and 3,200 square feet of commercial space. The building would be six stories at most and not require rezoning.
Stok Investment Group is a development company that launched three and a half years ago to buck the trend of developing luxury housing.
The company builds apartments for people making between 50% and 140% of the area median income, which is currently $82,100 for a single person.
“Our purpose is around trying to help solve income inequality by developing affordable, healthy and low-carbon communities,” said stok Investment Group’s managing partner Ross Holbrook.
The company’s approach to addressing climate goals is to build smaller scale individual units with ample common space, including places to host dinner parties, rooftop barbeques and movie screenings. The buildings are equipped with tools for bike and ski repairs.
“The project seeks to add safe, sustainable, and attainably priced housing to the Welton transit corridor with a goal of better serving Five Points residents who earn less than 100% of Area Median Income,” according to the plans.
While the project targets people making the median income or less, the development is not 100% income-restricted affordable housing and will be sold at market rate. The project will include a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom housing, said Holbrook.
The company submitted concept plans ahead of the June 30 date when new developments will be mandated to be part of the city’s Expanding Housing Affordability plan, which requires developers to build a certain number of income-restricted homes. Holbrook said his company sees eye-to-eye with the city on that policy but wanted flexibility for this project.
“There’s a lot of obstacles in this business,” Holbrook said. “It’s an interesting time to be developing where land prices, construction and interest rates are going up.”
How will the apartment fit into the culture of Five Points?
The historically Black community has seen a glut of development in recent years and an influx of young, single, white people with disposable income moving into many mid-sized apartment complexes that have replaced older homes down Welton Street.
This project would be located in a protected historic district, but because the buildings that were on that plot of land have been torn down, it is not beholden to rules around historic preservation.
Nonetheless, Holbrook hopes the project pays homage to Five Points while also looking toward the future of the neighborhood. He also hopes it offers some solutions for small families looking to share an apartment and live in a neighborhood where families are increasingly rare.
His company is working with the Holleran Group, which is run by Norman Harris, who has deep ties in the neighborhood, and Gilmore Construction. Both companies employ people who recall getting their hair cut on the site, Holbrook said.
“We intentionally did that to continue some of the authenticity in that neighborhood and the culture and the history, but also, you know, celebrate what’s to come as well,” he explained.
Though the units will be smaller than most, he also hopes the new building will serve some small families.
“We have two- and three-bedroom units,” he said. “The solution for housing for families is really difficult. It’s one we hope to ultimately help solve. I do think some of our units would work for a family. It’s really hard to do and hard to execute on. Our more typical renter is a roommate situation or maybe a couple or a couple with one kid. As your family grows you need more space.”
If the new project is developed, stok Investment Group’s plans to hold onto it for the long term, hiring a property management company to run daily operations.
“We are biased toward holding longer-term and really creating assets that will stand the test of time both from an architecture perspective,” Holbrook said, “but more so from residents and the community that lives in and around our project.”