Clara Brown Commons features large-scale art installations from local Denver muralists Tony Ortega and Detour, as well as contributions by artists from local nonprofit Access Gallery.
Hunt Capital Partners Clara Brown Commons features large-scale art installations from local Denver muralists Tony Ortega and Detour, as well as contributions by artists from local nonprofit Access Gallery.

A new development has brought 61 affordable homes to Denver while serving as the first step in a three-stage plan to enrich its neighborhood.

Mile High Ministries (MHM), a faith-based developer, recently celebrated the opening of Clara Brown Commons, a four-story community offering a mix of 14 one-, 28 two-, and 19 three-bedroom units for households earning up to 20%, 30%, 50%, 60%, and 80% of the area median income.

“The shortage of affordable housing has been a longstanding concern in our city and is a high priority for all of us,” said Jeff Johnsen, MHM executive director. “Clara Brown Commons helps bridge the gap by offering a critical opportunity for family households to access safe and secure housing through 61 units of affordable housing, prioritizing the most vulnerable members of our community.”

The development is also notable because it’s part of a larger effort in Denver’s Cole neighborhood. Seventeen Habitat for Humanity townhomes adjacent to the apartment complex will soon be opening, and a future phase hopes to provide additional space for community services that MHM has been providing for 36 years, such as job training, family advocacy, early childhood education, and youth mentoring.

Mile High Ministries has opened Clara Brown Commons, a 61-unit affordable housing community in Denver named after a former slave turned entrepreneur, community leader, and philanthropist.
Hunt Capital Partners Mile High Ministries has opened Clara Brown Commons, a 61-unit affordable housing community in Denver named after a former slave turned entrepreneur, community leader, and philanthropist.

The new apartments are equipped with modern amenities, including full-size refrigerators, electric ranges, dishwashers, washers and dryers, and ceiling fans.

In addition, residents have access to a conference room, a fitness room, a children’s playroom, bike storage, a mail area, and a sunroom. Clara Brown Commons meets 2020 Enterprise Green Communities certifiable standards and features Energy Star appliances, electric vehicle charging stations, photovoltaic solar panels, and storm-resistant construction materials.

Hunt Community Partners (HCP) is among the key financing partners, providing $11.2 million in federal low-income housing tax credit and solar investment credit equity as well as $2.8 million in state housing credit equity.

“We are grateful to partner with Mile High Ministries in their mission to bring more affordable housing to Denver,” said Amy Dickerson, HCP investor relations managing director. “Much like the project’s namesake, Clara Brown, the development marks the beginning of a promising future for some of the area’s lowest-income families by offering valuable resident services, quality community spaces, and, most importantly, affordable places to call home.”

The project honors a former slave turned entrepreneur, community leader, and philanthropist.

Lenders include Pacific Western Bank, which provided a tax-exempt $15.9 million construction loan, as well as a tax-exempt construction-to-permanent loan of $6.4 million. MHM provided a $6 million general partner soft loan, composed of $1.8 million in city of Denver HOME funds, $1.5 million in Colorado Division of Housing HOME funds, and $2.7 million in sponsor capital campaign funds.