Some units at these Green Valley Ranch apartments will remain ‘permanently affordable’ for locals

“Go out and get it. It’s out there to help you and closed mouths don’t get fed. Get out there and apply. Don’t be afraid or deterred,” said one of The Reserves’ new residents.

Alice Price cuts the ribbon at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch, a new affordable development where she's now a resident. Oct. 27, 2022.

Alice Price cuts the ribbon at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch, a new affordable development where she's now a resident. Oct. 27, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Desiree

Alice Price needed a bigger, more accessible and more affordable place to live. She’s the guardian of her grandchildren and recently had some health issues, so her two-bedroom apartment on the second floor in Aurora, wasn’t cutting it.

But finding a place, an affordable place, is not an easy feat in Denver. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment costs $1,441, and for a two-bedroom rent is $1,782.

A quick Zillow search for three-bedrooms yields some results, but prices lean toward the $3,000 mark.

Housing is considered “affordable” when a household spends no more than 30% of its gross monthly income on rent or their mortgage, according to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. To comfortably afford housing that cost $3,000 a month, you’d need to bring home about $120,000 a year.

Price does not make that much.

So, she applied for the few affordable units available in the city and didn’t hear back — until she found The Reserves in Green Valley Ranch.

New affordable apartments at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

New affordable apartments at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
New affordable apartments at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

New affordable apartments at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

When she found the apartments online, construction wasn’t done, but she applied anyway.

That was in April. At the end of September, she moved into a brand new three-bedroom apartment at The Reserves at a deeply affordable price.

“When one or two doors close, you don’t want to try again but I happened to try again and that door opened,” Price said. “When I heard back, I shouted and cried because this is a blessing and bless the [development] for offering this for people like us. Affordable helps everyone. People with kids, people with low incomes. It helps them be stable, be above water to make sure that they have something for themselves.”

On Thursday, Price along with owners and stakeholders of The Reserves gathered in the clubroom to celebrate the apartments’ grand opening.

Inside a new two-bedroom affordable apartment at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

Inside a new two-bedroom affordable apartment at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The Reserves is a 216-unit mixed-income development off Green Valley Ranch Boulevard with 144 income-restricted units. Apartments range from one to three bedrooms and are reserved for those making 30% to 80% of the area median income. For a family of three, 30% AMI is about $31,650 and 80% is 80,500.

The rest of the units are priced at market rate.

“When we first found this property, there was nothing here, nothing on this side of Peña [Boulevard],” said Ryan Zent, Vice President of Development with Overland Property Group, The Reserves’ developer. “We looked at all the future growth and future demand and needs of this area and decided on a very wide range of incomes. These units are deed-restricted for affordable units…for the next 50 years. They will be permanently affordable.”

A look at one new affordable apartment at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch from inside another. Oct. 27, 2022.

A look at one new affordable apartment at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch from inside another. Oct. 27, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

According to Jennifer Balkcom, the housing development director with the Department of Housing Stability, 25% of the affordable units are reserved for those making 30% AMI or less. She added that 38% of the units are for those making 50% AMI and 29% of the units are three bedrooms.

Balkcom said providing units for those lower AMI values is “difficult.”

“The lack of three-bedroom apartments in Denver is getting worse because no one is building [them]. Overland took on creating three-bedroom units and also units at 30% AMI and also units at 50% AMI. It’s a really big deal,” Balkcom said.

Zent said the need for affordable units was evident during the leasing process. Almost 500 people applied for the 144 units within a 60-day timeframe, Zent said.

“Yes, that’s great from an economic standpoint of the property, but that just shows you there’s so much unmet demand and that there really needs to be more conscious efforts to make more of these resources,” Zent said. “What we do matters. It’s easy to sit there and look at a spreadsheet and say this doesn’t work or this is hard. But when you meet a family that has a home, that didn’t have a home, that matters.”

Inside a new one-bedroom affordable apartment at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

Inside a new one-bedroom affordable apartment at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Snow falls over new affordable apartments at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

Snow falls over new affordable apartments at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Aesthetics and amenities matter too. Some of the amenities include a fitness center, private theater, basketball court and playground.

Looking around the clubhouse, Price couldn’t decide on a favorite.

“Everything’s my favorite, can’t you tell by the smile on my face,” Price said and laughed. “The landscaping, the space, it’s all great. And beyond that. The communication has been great. When you keep communicating with your residents and let them know what’s going on, that’s how I know I’m treated well.”

Alice Price weeps happily as she thanks the Overland Property Group for her new affordable apartment at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

Alice Price weeps happily as she thanks the Overland Property Group for her new affordable apartment at the Reserves At Green Valley Ranch. Oct. 27, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The property is managed by Mission Rock Residential and it received funding from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Colorado Housing & Finance Authority. HOST added $2,160,000 in financing from the Affordable Housing Fund.

Balkcom said the new units at The Reserves is another step toward reaching HOST’s five-year goal of creating and preserving 7,000 affordable units by 2026. She added that 995 units have received city financing and are under construction. Another 757 units are in the planning stage. As of the beginning of October, 89 units have been created and 253 units have been preserved.

According to HOST, there are 26,000 income-restricted units in the city and that “represents just over 7% of all housing units in Denver.”

Price said she hopes the trend continues. She also encourages people to continue applying for these spaces.

“The resources here in Denver, jump on it,” Price said. “Go out and get it. It’s out there to help you and closed mouths don’t get fed. Get out there and apply. Don’t be afraid or deterred.”

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