Officials hope that one day there will be 125 Habitat for Humanity townhomes and condos on the Xcel Energy property along South Golden Road, so locals can buy permanently affordable homes.
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While the idea is a long time coming, it also has a long way to go before it becomes reality.
On Jan. 10, the City of Golden and Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver took some of the first steps by applying for a $3 million affordable housing grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
Only municipalities can apply for the grant, so if successful, the city will serve as a pass-through agency and reimburse Habitat for its work on the 5-acre Xcel property. The money must be spent by May 2024.
Xcel listed its property at 17805 South Golden Road for sale in June, and Habitat is currently under contract and scheduled to close in February. If all goes well, Habitat plans to start design work this spring, site demolition over the summer, and site development after that.
Building 125 units will take several years, city and Habitat representatives stated, as the nonprofit hopes to rally community members for their help in building them.
Habitat’s goal is to turn the property into the city’s first affordable homeownership project. The townhomes and condos will be one- to four-bedroom units and will be sold to households with average incomes around 80% of the area median income.
The nonprofit will place the property into a land trust, so all subsequent owners will have to meet similar criteria to purchase from the initial owners, Habitat representatives explained to City Council.
“This development provides the opportunity to make a generational impact in Golden where homeownership is out of reach for low-middle income households,” Janet Maccubbin, the city’s affordable housing policy coordinator, stated in a memo to City Council.
During the Jan. 10 meeting, Maccubbin described how DOLA officials are very excited about the application and the partnership between Habitat and the city.
She emphasized that, as Habitat proceeds with this project, it will have to go through all the public processes for planning and zoning. That likely won’t start until later this year, but Golden wanted to apply for the grant now because of the unique opportunity.
“This is how we, as a city, can help support affordable housing opportunities,” Maccubbin said of the DOLA grant application.
Kate Hillberg, Habitat’s director of real estate, said her organization knew the property was going to be decommissioned eventually and has been keeping an eye on it for several years.
“It’s such a meaningful investment in Golden that we had to go after this,” Hillberg said. “ … (Without the grant) it’ll take us longer to get started, but it doesn’t stop the project.”
Councilors wondered if the project is successful who will decide who can buy a unit. Considering local firefighters, teachers and other employees who need affordable housing, they wondered whether locals could have first preference.
Hillberg answered that it’s based on who gets their documents together first, saying Habitat can’t specifically hold out units for anyone, but it can market to Golden employees and residents first.
Overall, the councilors were excited about the opportunity, with Councilor JJ Trout saying that she and her predecessor on City Council have been watching this property for years. Given that it’s close to transit stops, schools, grocery stores, parks and more, Trout said it’s a perfect location for future housing.
Councilor Don Cameron said he gave Habitat a tour of the property a few years ago, adding, “I’m stoked that it’s come to fruition.”
However, Mayor Laura Weinberg reminded everyone how the grant application is the first step of many for the whole project. Habitat still needs to go through all the necessary steps regarding land use and development, she and the councilors emphasized, telling everyone who’s interested in the project to stay tuned.
“I’m sure we’ll be talking about this property for many meetings to come,” Weinberg said, adding how she hopes the grant application is successful.
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