It will be called the “Odyssey,” in reference to the classic Greek journey of soldiers returning from the Trojan War. This modern-version of the Odyssey will be a new 36-unit apartment unit project to serve women military veterans and other at-risk females participating in service programs.
The Empowerment Program, a non-profit group, recently received a $5.6 million tax credit award to fund the development of the Odyssey, which will be built on the site of the historic Elyria Elementary School at East 47th Avenue and High Street near the National Western Stock Show facility. The school also will be renovated as part of the project. The Odyssey and the renovation will cost a total of $6.8 million.
The tax credits are allocated by the Colorado Housing Finance Authority and provide the primary source of equity for the affordable residential development.
It was the second round of financing from CHFA for the project. CHFA awards the housing tax credits twice a year — in April and September.
The three-story apartment building will be constructed adjacent to the school on the south parking area and connected through a two-story transition structure on the west side of the school. Additional parking will be developed on the north end of the site
The existing school building will be renovated for program space. It is the former home of the Su Teatro theater, which last year moved to 721 Santa Fe Drive in the Art District on Santa Fe.
“We are excited to finally realize our dream of starting the Odyssey development, as the crucial need to house and assist our returning military servicewomen increases throughout the community” said Carol Lease, executive director of Empowerment.
“This site provides a safe and secure environment for the residents and allows us to re-purpose the beautiful school building for activity space.”
The Empowerment Program owns five other residential properties in Denver and has provided job training and other services to women for over 26 years. Odyssey will offer affordable rents to veterans, allow children and pets, and will be managed by Pillar Property Services.
The combined residential and preservation project stems from an initiative by developer Jim Mercado.
Mercado worked with Su Teatro’s director, Tony Garcia, to provide a community benefit for the transition of the historic school, which Mercado describes an important landmark in the Elyria neighborhood.
Mercado said it hasn’t yet been determined whether they will seek LEED-certification for the new building, new building will be LEED-certified, the design meets the standards of a Silver LEED certification and it will exceed Enterprise Community energy standards.
The total $7 million reinvestment in Elyria is one of many recent potential catalysts in the area, including a new light rail station and improvements along Brighton Boulevard, Mercado said.
The project will be built to the combined effort of the Empowerment Program, J.Mercado and Associates Inc. and Community Capital Corp. headed by Ken Hoagland.
CCC is processing the allocation of other funding sources, pending through Denver’s Road Home Program, Denver’s Office of Economic Development, the Colorado Division of Housing in addition to private lenders and investors.
A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for early November, with the project completion slated for fall of 2013.