Denverite – By Adrian D. Garcia

There are just a few financial hurdles left to clear before construction can start on the Denver Housing Authority’s $59 million senior housing project planned for West Colfax.

Denver City Council is expected to decide Feb. 13 whether $5.5 million of taxpayers’ dollars should go toward supporting the development of the seven-story, 175-room Vida project. If the officials give the all clear, construction will start in June, said Chris Spelke, senior developer at the Denver Housing Authority.

DHA is under contract to buy the property at the northeast corner of West Colfax Avenue and Quitman Street from EnviroFinance Group in May. The 210,000-square-foot building is planned to open by 2019, Spelke said.

Vida could give Centura Health a presence back in the neighborhood. The hospital operator moved St. Anthony Hospital to Lakewood in 2011 after more than 100 years in the community.

Vida would be part of the 19-acre Sloans redevelopment site that St. Anthony’s used to occupy.

Centura Health is expected to operate a neighborhood health clinic with urgent care services on the ground floor of Vida. On the same level, a dialysis center is set to open, and DHA is hoping to bring an activity center for adults and seniors.

The 175 apartments are expected to be one bedrooms with an average approximate size of 540 square feet. The units will be aimed at senior and disabled residents who earn 30 percent or less than the area median income ($16,830 for a single adult).

“A lot of the development that you see on the other blocks are going to be market rate. They do have an affordability component, but for the most part, they’re market rate,” said Tracy Huggins, executive director of the Urban Renewal Authority. “That’s not the case with this project. This is specifically designed for income-qualifying elderly and disabled individuals.”

The Vida site is in the St. Anthony’s Urban Renewal Area. The Denver Urban Renewal Authority already kicked in $3.4 million to help bring the eight-screen Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to the area and $1.6 million for the nearby property that now houses a Starbucks, said Mike Guertin, senior redevelopment specialist at the authority.

This month the authority is hoping to get council’s approval to put $5.5 million toward Vida and $6.5 million toward the redevelopment of the Kuhlman Building at the southwest corner of West 17th Avenue and Perry Street.

The money used for the projects comes from property taxes in the area via TIF or tax increment financing. Basically, TIF is a financial mechanism that reroutes a portion of property taxes that would typically go toward school district and government budgets and puts them toward redeveloping a blighted area for up to 25 years.

Denver Public Schools is seeing more students coming from the St. Anthony’s Urban Renewal Area and not necessarily more money. To offset some of the burden, the Denver Urban Renewal Authority has agreed to pay the district $2.5 million over a decade, Huggins said.

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