April 14, 2024
Solar Valley, Denver Housing Authority obtain grant to wash up Xcel website, making park plans doable

Think about dwelling throughout from an industrial advanced that homes an deserted warehouse surrounded by polluted soil and three tanks every full of 4 million gallons of diesel.

Think about rising up with that advanced obstructing views of Denver’s skyline and the South Platte River.

That’s been the truth for Solar Valley residents for many years as they lived within the shadow of Xcel Vitality’s defunct Zuni Producing Station close to the South Platte and W. thirteenth Avenue, the place the utility processed coal, pure gasoline, and steam power.

As Solar Valley’s neighborhood redevelopment, spearheaded by the Denver Housing Authority, continues and new housing is constructed, a plan to transform a portion of that station into an 11-acre riverfront park house is in movement.

However earlier than that imaginative and prescient will be totally realized, the realm needs to be cleaned up — and the funding for that work is now out there.

DHA introduced Monday that it has acquired a $1,049,300 grant from the Environmental Safety Company to remediate eight-acres of land on the outdated Xcel website to make it liveable for a park and potential housing.

Solar Valley, Denver Housing Authority obtain grant to wash up Xcel website, making park plans doable
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite


“The EPA grant will permit us to remediate the soil and demolish the present warehouse that’s there, that’s deserted,” mentioned Ashleigh Wheeler, the Growth and Sustainability Supervisor at DHA. “From there, DHA goes to companion with the Metropolis of Denver to develop an 11-acre riverfront park all alongside the South Platte. We couldn’t have completed this with out the group…We’re actually righting the wrongs of the environmental injustice that this group has been experiencing and we’re actually excited to assist implement that.”

Cleansing up the Xcel property has been within the works since John Hickenlooper was Denver’s mayor, however the course of really started when DHA bought a bit of the Xcel Station, the Zuni Tank Farm, in 2021.

DHA bought the property as a part of the redevelopment plans of Solar Valley. In a multi-year undertaking, DHA’s objective was to exchange 333 items of the outdated purple brick constructing housing Solar Valley Properties and add greater than 950 new houses to accommodate greater than 2,500 residents.

The DHA houses made up the vast majority of the housing out there within the neighborhood and, because the redevelopment started, many residents have been displaced and the neighborhood has been full of grime, cranes and development crews.

The Thrive apartment buildng in Sun Valley. June 26, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

However DHA has already accomplished a number of levels of the plan with the opening of Gateway North, Gateway South, GreenHaus and Thrive, which instantly overlooks the place the park will ultimately go.

Mixed, the 4 complexes home 451 items of market-rate and reasonably priced housing starting from these making 40% of the realm median earnings to 80%. As of June 15, a household of 4 making $49,640 hits the 40% AMI, whereas 80% can be $94,650. A portion of that housing was additionally reserved for residents who have been displaced throughout the demolition of the older buildings.

DHA’s objective is to create a mixed-income neighborhood that fits Solar Valley residents’ wants, particularly residents who’ve lived within the neighborhood for many years.

Moreover housing, DHA constructed and at the moment operates a grocery retailer, Decatur Contemporary. The shop was opened to handle meals entry points within the neighborhood.

The company can be engaged on the infrastructure of the realm with the thirteenth Avenue realignment undertaking, which can deliver a grid again to the neighborhood, creating new connections to the skin in addition to new methods of motion inside.

Three extra condominium complexes are within the works: Sol, Joli and Flo. Sol and Joli may have 297 items and can home a meals and enterprise incubator, on the request of residents. Flo might be for residents 55 and older.

Including a park is simply one other step for DHA to make the neighborhood a neighborhood, with long-term residents in thoughts.

“I’ve seen so many enhancements revamped the previous couple of years and it’s nice to see the funding in our neighborhood,” mentioned resident Craig Allen. “I can’t wait to see what’s subsequent with the deliberate park and extra housing.”

Sun Valley. June 26, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The EPA grant helps transfer the park plans ahead.

The grant is funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation and was awarded to DHA by way of the Brownfields Program, which funds clear up tasks of “contaminated properties” and “returns blighted properties to productive reuse.”

The Xcel Station is over 120 years outdated and the Tank Farm website, together with the diesel inside the massive vats, was once a “backup energy supply” for town, in accordance with Wheeler. It additionally was once a landfill.

Wheeler mentioned the land is at the moment cleaned to “industrial requirements” and the grant will deliver the property as much as “residential requirements,” permitting for the park and housing to be constructed.

Wheeler added {that a} small part of the property could also be used for housing sooner or later however the speedy precedence is the park, which may function “environmental schooling, a water-feature play space, cafes, play fields and courts and multi-use trails.”

On Monday, DHA, metropolis officers and a few Solar Valley residents celebrated the grant at residential constructing Thrive, which has a communal deck that overlooks the neighborhood, together with Fairview Elementary, the proposed park and the river.

There, officers thanked residents for his or her resiliency as their neighborhood modified quickly. Officers additionally acknowledged that the cleanup and eventual park are lengthy overdue and nicely deserved.

“If you look out your again door or your entrance porch in Solar Valley and all you noticed have been industrial tanks and energy establishments, you suppose that’s all of your neighborhood is nice for,” mentioned Metropolis Council President Jamie Torres. “This is among the ways in which we’re ensuring that we’re reinforcing to each resident that returns to Solar Valley that this can be a neighborhood worthy of parks, of inexperienced house, of open house, clear water, clear air and we’re going to be constructing that for you.”

A gap celebration for Thrive and GreenHaus might be hosted by DHA on Friday from 12 to 2 p.m.

Xcel Energy's defunct Zuni Generating Station on the edge of Sun Valley. May 26, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite