The Denver Housing Authority is getting the most out of its grant writing in winning five ARRA funding opportunities.

DHA Wins Stimulus Grants
Rendering: DHA
The South Lincoln Park development project near the 10th and Osage light-rail station received $10 million in ARRA funds to create a mixed-income, mixeduse, transit-oriented community in Denver.

In a remarkable accomplishment, the Denver Housing Authority recently won five of five competitive grants for American Recovery & Reinvestment Act stimulus funds totaling $27 million for public housing capital improvements. The funds include renovations and new construction.

Of the $4 billion in ARRA stimulus money distributed by the U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development earlier this year, $3 billion was assigned to public housing nationwide based on the number of housing units held by the respective agencies. Denver, with a total of 3,800 units, received roughly $7.8 million.

The remaining $1 billion was allocated on a competitive basis. “Agencies such as ours, able to leverage other resources and having high-quality projects ready to roll that met sustainability and affordable-housing requirements, were well positioned for the competitive round,” says Ismael Guerrero, executive director of the DHA.

Winners of the grants were notified in September. “We were strategic with our initial award of $7.8 million,” Guerrero says. “No funds were committed until we could be certain about the results of the competitive round. Given the concerted effortby our in-house team, the result, quadrupling our budget to $35 million, was especially gratifying.”

DHA is currently moving ahead to allocate the funds and launch projects within the requisite 12-month period that began Sept. 30. “We want to allocate all the ARRA funds this fall, so we can go out to bid in first-quarter 2010,” Guerrero says.

Statewide, Colorado received more than $180 million in ARRA funding, nearly $137 million in the latest round and $53 million last spring that went toward neighborhood stabilization programs. Decisions regarding distribution of much of the $137 million are still pending.

“Sustainable, affordable, energy-efficient, TOD (transit-oriented development) was a key element of the high-profile visit to Denver by HUD secretary Shaun Donovan on Sept. 18,” says Debra Griswold, HUD deputy secretary in Denver. Griswold says the visit, which included Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, was intended to call attention to the Obama administration’s new urban policy agenda.

“By establishing a mechanism to quickly resolve challenges that might arise, federal agencies intend to make it easier for states and municipalities to utilize our programs,” Griswold says.

DHA ARRA Stimulus-Funded Projects

Park Avenue Redevelopment
Benedict Park Place Block 5B

LEED-certified new construction in the design phase, transit-oriented development near the Orange Line light rail; 90 mixed-income units
Cost: $4.9 million in ARRA funding, $18-million project cost
General Contractor: Deneuve Construction
Architect/Engineer: Braun Yoshida
Start: Oct. 2008
Finish: May 2011

Park Avenue Redevelopment
Benedict Park Place Block 4B

Infrastructure and streets under construction,
TOD near Orange Line light rail
Cost: $1.1 million in ARRA funding (total project cost)
General Contractor: Pinkard Construction
Architect/Engineer: Insitu Design
Start: May 2007
Finish: Dec. 2009

South Lincoln Tower
10th & Osage

New construction of senior/disabled housing, in planning and design, TOD at Osage Station light rai; 100-unit high-rise
Cost: $10 million in ARRA funding, $22-million project cost
Design-build RFP issued in October
Finish: Oct. 2011

Mulroy Apartments and Opportunity Center
3550 W. 13th Ave.

Interior and exterior improvements to Opportunity Center and light-rail access, in planning and design, TOD, 50-unit complex,
Cost: $1.34 million in ARRA funding, $2.25 million project cost
Start: October 2009
Finish: July 2011

Westwood Homes Transformation
855 Irving St.

Modernization of 192 units of public housing with addition of renewable-energy components
Cost: $10 million in ARRA funding, $26-million project cost
Architect: Parikh Stevens
Start: Nov. 2009
Finish: June 2011

Columbine Homes
201 S. Yuma St.

Installation of Energy Star water heaters
Cost: $150,000 of ARRA funding (total cost)
General Contractor: DHA
Start: Oct. 2009
Finish: Feb. 2010

TOD at South Lincoln Park

The upcoming South Lincoln Park development, which received $10 million in ARRA funding, is a good example.

Located near the 10th and Osage light-rail station, phase one of the TOD project’s master plan, completed prior to ARRA, called for 100 residences, but it lacked the funding to start construction. “Once the stimulus money became available, we kicked off phase one,” Guerrero says. “We are currently seeking an architect and assembling a design-build team.”

Construction of the high-rise residence for seniors at mixed-income levels is scheduled to start in late summer.

“Improvements to existing public housing planned for the next two to four years can now begin to move forward,” Guerrero says. “Also, for the first time in nearly 20 years, we are able to build new, affordable homes for families that need subsidized housing.

“Most of these projects are in planning and procurement. RFPs will be going out over the next few weeks.”

Meanwhile, DHA has begun purchasing supplies such as water heaters for Columbine Homes and planning renovations at Westwood Homes (see related sidebar), where the agency has already completed a new community center, installed utility lines and retained architect Parikh Stevens to design new interiors.

ARRA stimulus money has provided DHA the opportunity to finish the rental portion of its ambitious 873-unit Park Avenue Redevelopment, recently renamed Benedict Park Place. Construction began in 2004 and is set to finish in May 2011. Unfortunately, start-up of the 283-unit ownership segment, Blocks 1A, 3A, 4A and 5A, remains stalled by the downturn.

Rental Blocks 2 (rehab of Thomas Bean Towers, 189 units), 1B (124 units) and 3B (91 units) have been completed, while 4B (90 units) is due to finish in December. 5B started construction in November. Originally designed for 70 units, 5B, the final rental phase, has been expanded to 90 units.

“Long-term, we have no concerns about the ownership segment because it remains an extremely desirable TOD location adjacent to light rail and within walking distance of downtown, but our private development partners need for the recovery to kick in before they can break ground, ” Guerrero says.

Plans call for 25% of the ownership units to be affordably priced.

“Denver is being showcased as a national model for transforming neighborhoods by making them greener, more affordable, safer places to raise families.” Griswold says. “Colorado has led the push for renewable, alternative energy and smart, sustainable development. That’s why it was selected as a prime location to promote the Obama agenda.”