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More than a new headquarters, Denver Housing Authority’s office tower will anchor Mariposa redevelopment

150,000-square-foot building will feature fresh food market, nonprofit space, DHA offices

By JOE RUBINO | | The Denver PostPUBLISHED: September 12, 2017 at 3:32 p.m. | UPDATED: September 13, 2017 at 11:04 a.m.

The Lincoln Park neighborhood southwest of downtown is getting an office tower unlike any other in Denver.

Work is underway on the Denver Housing Authority’s Collaborative Resource Center.

Rising just north of the West 10th Avenue and Osage Streetlight rail stop, the 11-story building will serve as the Housing Authority’s headquarters when it opens in 2019.

It will feature an eye-catching design courtesy of Davis Partnership Architects and be a short walk from a Regional Transportation District rail station visited by roughly 40,000 users each year.

What differentiates it from the bevy of office buildings popping up around town is what’s planned for inside. Beyond the housing authority, the center will house a ground-floor market selling fresh, healthy foods. Upstairs, there will be thousands of square feet of leaseable space for small businesses and nonprofits the authority wants to help grow in the heart of its marquee Mariposa redevelopment area.

“To bring in an office building immediately adjacent to light rail is a connector and a capstone project for us,” Ryan Tobin, the authority’s real estate director, said of the center. “It will be bringing us into the modern age. This will be the nerve center.”

There’s no word yet on whom the housing authority’s neighbors might be but Tobin said the project will provide some below-market leases for whichever nonprofits the agency eventually invites to move in. The project has a 19-month construction schedule, and the authority will spend much of the next 12 months focused on inking leases to ensure the building is active from day 1, Tobin said. Shared working space will also be part of the mix when the doors open, further establishing the center as a means to increase opportunities and activity in the long-depressed 17-acre Mariposa District.

“We’re looking to support and bring in synergistic, like-minded tenants in our building,” Tobin said. “We’re looking forward to it being an incubator for small businesses and nonprofits alike.”

The ground floor “Mercado” space, will have a grocery component with fruits, veggies and other items, and prepared foods for sale. It will be staffed by participants in the authority’s Osage Café youth culinary training program.

The authority’s footprint will shrink when it moves in. It will take up 35,000 square feet of the 150,000-square-foot tower. It works out of 66,000 square feet at 777 Grant St. now, but only uses about 75 percent of that, according to Tobin. He expects a new building with upgraded technology and access to light rail will help the authority attract new talent.

The center will be adjacent to the recently wrapped apartment component of the authority’s Mariposa redevelopment, now home to 1,500 residents in 581 mixed-income units. The seven-year redevelopment of the existing public housing there tripled the number of people who live in the area. Work is slated to get underway this month on 58 for-sale homes in the district, Tobin said. Ten percent of those will hit the market as subsidized, affordable housing.

The total project budget is $42 million, officials said. Rose Urban Green Fund, an affiliate of affordable housing development specialist Jonathan Rose Companies LLC, recently dedicated $10.25 million to the construction. Those dollars came from a pot of $50 million in federal New Market Tax Credit dollars. The tax credit program is designed to help projects in economically downtrodden areas attract private investors.

“This is one of the most forward-thinking and visionary projects ever undertaken by a housing authority, and it is highly aligned with our mission of creating communities of opportunity,” said Chuck Perry, a partner at Perry Rose LLC, the Denver office of Jonathan Rose Cos.