Seven stories of affordable housing could be built between the Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch Library and Luxe at Mile High apartments

The project depends on the city approving the plans and securing funding for the project with tax credits.

Vacant land at 3270 West Colfax Avenue could be the home of affordable housing.

Vacant land at 3270 West Colfax Avenue could be the home of affordable housing.

Kyle Harris / Denverite
kyle harris

A half-acre patch of land between the Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Branch Library, Luxe at Mile High apartments, and West Colfax Avenue, sits unused.

There are no picnic benches. No gardens. No park.

“That plot of land has been vacant forever,” said Rosa Cho, principal at the architecture firm Studio Completiva, whose business is located just south of the site. “It’s a challenge, because there’s no parking. I know this because multiple developers have tried to develop that site forever. I think they talked to the city about it. In order to do that, they have to put in a parking garage, and, you know, who has money for that?”

The latest company to propose a project is the Urban Land Conservancy, an affordable housing developer.

The land, which is adjacent to the library’s ground-level parking lot, is owned by Avondale Commons, according to city records. That’s an LLC run by the Urban Land Conservancy, which owned the entire block before selling the library property to the City of Denver in 2012.

The nonprofit developer is seeking Low-Income Housing Tax Credit funding.

“We have no idea if it’s going to be approved or not,” Cho said.

In the meantime, Cho has submitted a concept plan to the City of Denver, the first step in getting a project approved.

According to the plans, the new building would be seven stories tall with 102 units for mixed-income families.

The site would include 38 parking spaces. No rezoning would be required.

If everything goes as planned, every unit in the building would become income-restricted affordable housing.

Urban Land Conservancy, whose past Denver projects include the Mosaic Community Campus in Park Hill, typically preserves that affordability for 99 years, Cho said.

The project would be built in a part of the West Colfax neighborhood that has seen a great deal of growth in recent years.

There’s the library, which opened in 2015.

Luxe at Mile High, the adjacent luxury apartments, promises to be “your new luxury home” with “spa-like amenities” and “everything you desire.”

To the south is the West Colfax Business Improvement District, Studio Completiva’s headquarters, other businesses and more housing.

More vacant land sits to the north.

And the broader neighborhood, once a hub of Jewish culture, offers a mix of West Colfax classics like the Lake Steam Baths, trendy coffee-shops and an Alamo Drafthouse.

In recent decades, the area has been largely a Latino neighborhood. But single-family homes and even apartment buildings have been scrapped, and many longtime residents have been priced out or forced to move on as landlords have sold their properties.

The timeline — and even future — of the proposed income-restricted housing project is uncertain, but Cho guesses the Urban Land Conservancy will hear back by November.

“We’re just waiting,” she said. “It’s a waiting game right now.”

And if funding doesn’t come through?

“Most people try again,” Cho said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the tax credit funding would come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That was incorrect. We regret the error. 

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