Once little more than several blocks of deteriorating public housing, the new Mariposa District in Denver now boasts energy-efficient apartments and townhomes, a local café, computer center, youth music studio and fitness circuit—all a short walk from the 10th Avenue and Osage Street light rail station. The affordable, workforce and market rate apartments are 95% pre-leased.

Photo courtesy of Denver Housing Authority
Crews continue work on new apartment buildings at DHAs Mariposa Development south of downtown Denver near Lincoln Park.

On October 4, the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) celebrated the grand opening of this nationally recognized development. The event marks years of planning, hundreds of public meetings and work by many local design and development teams. U.S. Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Denver City Councilwoman Judy Montero and other officials joined in the program.

“The Denver Housing Authority has long served as a model for how to leverage affordable housing funds in new and innovative ways, in this case, strengthening our community and improving the quality of life for our citizens,” said Rep. DeGette (D). “This site is proof that when utilized effectively federal investment partnered with local interests can achieve extraordinary things.”

The Mariposa District is good for the community and good for Denver, said Ismael Guerrero, DHA executive director.
“The vision for the Mariposa District has been to create a vibrant transit community where people enjoy an active lifestyle, environmental sustainability, cultural diversity and proximity to downtown,” he said. “And the economic impact for Denver is well documented. The Homebuilders Association of Metro Denver estimates that every 100 units of new housing create 133 construction jobs and 22 permanent jobs.”

From a leasing perspective, Mariposa offers everything people love about living and working in Denver, said Debi Ross-Weseloh, president of Ross Management Group. “This community is creative, sustainable and connected. With easy access to light rail, fantastic dining and shopping options, and being in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District, Mariposa will bring even more energy and excitement to this wonderful neighborhood,” she said.

Phased Development

Planning for the $200-million Mariposa District began in 2009. It is being developed in multiple phases, with a planned total of 800 residential units scheduled for completion 2016-18. Each community-driven phase has a different design and development team to ensure community input, architectural diversity and local economic activity. More than 20 local firms have worked on the project so far, including the following.

Phase 1

• 100 affordable apartments for seniors, opened January 2012

• LEED-Platinum certification

• Team: Buchanan Yonushewski Group (architect), Group 14 (energy modeling), Milender White Construction Co, Perspective 3 (community outreach), Vision Land Consultants (civil engineer), Wenk Associates (landscape architecture), YR&G (sustainability consultant)

Phase 2

• Four new mixed-income, mixed-use buildings totaling 87 apartments and six townhomes

• Opening in July and October 2013

• LEED-Gold certification targeted

• Team: Deneuve Construction, Group 14 (energy modeling), Jansen Strawn Civil Engineers, OZ Architecture (architects), Perspective 3 (community outreach), Urban Ventures (economic development consultant), Wenk Associates (landscape architect)

Phase 3

• 87 units