The Denver City Council recently approved a plan to redevelop Marycrest, a former convent at the northeast corner of West 52nd Avenue and Federal Boulevard in Denver. The plan creates the Marycrest Urban Redevelopment Area, allowing for the use of tax increment financing (TIF) to support redevelopment at the site.

Rendering courtesy of Urban Ventures
Rendering of the West 52nd Avenue Townhomes planned for the Marycrest redevelopment.

The project will redevelop 18 acres with about 360 new residential units, a 50,000-sq-ft parcel for commercial development and preserve the site’s existing 18-resident Warren Village, which provides transitional housing for women and children.

The residential development will include a mix of affordable and market-rate rental units, affordable and market-rate for-sale units, and co-housing. About 96 of the planned residential units will be senior housing, complementing the existing Harmony and Serenity assisted-living facilities on the site. Additionally, the Sisters of St. Francis will continue to maintain both housing and offices there.

Marycrest Land LLC, an entity formed by Denver’s Urban Ventures LLC and Perry-Rose Development Co., will lead the redevelopment. The Denver Urban Renewal Authority has underwritten the financing gap for the Marycrest project. The city of Denver’s Office of Economic Development will provide DURA with approximately $4.9 million to be repaid through TIF monies collected from the redevelopment. 

Since 1938, the Marycrest Campus has been the home of the convent for the Sisters of St. Francis, as well as the Marycrest High School for Girls and other smaller, related buildings. However, when the high school closed in 1986, the campus began to deteriorate, and the site has become largely vacant and antiquated. An October study found the campus to be blighted, setting into motion the creation of the Marycrest Urban Redevelopment Plan.  

“The Marycrest redevelopment is a great example of our commitment to working with the private sector and the city of Denver to redevelop a property that may otherwise remain underutilized,” says Tracy Huggins, DURA executive director. “Through thoughtful investment in projects like Marycrest, DURA and the city strive to foster neighborhood stability, improved quality of life, and economic sustainability for Denver’s citizens.”

Susan Powers, president of Urban Ventures, says, “There are not many opportunities in Denver to build a new neighborhood that is so close to downtown but also has the remarkable setting of Marycrest. We are very fortunate to work with DURA and the city on what we believe will be a model for future neighborhood development in cities.”

“Similar to other DURA projects, Marycrest has a rich history that we aim to preserve, and the redevelopment plan embraces the site’s legacy of community improvement and environmental stewardship supported by the Sisters of St. Francis,” Huggins says. “In this way, the redevelopment draws from the property’s rich past while envisioning the future of what communities can be—connected, inspiring, affordable, diverse places that use resources efficiently and creatively.”

Horizontal construction at the Marycrest site will begin this spring.