Larry Williams joined the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity—but it wasn’t to live in a frat house or party with fraternity brothers. “I couldn’t afford to join when I was in college,” he says. “And I was concentrating on my studies to go to law school.”
Williams settled into his law career and got involved with Big Brothers and Warren Village. And he was “looking for something more substantial, so he could give back.” His father-in-law, Willie Williams, was a Kappa alumni and talked about their projects, which appealed to Williams. And by the time he joined in 1991, he says, “I could afford it.”
Williams participated in Kappa’s youth scholarship program, meeting with high school boys, offering classes for taking the ACT and SAT, and “helping young men of color adjust to society and prepare for society.” He became president of the chapter in 1997. “That’s when I learned about housing and what Kappa Tower I was doing for senior citizens.”
Denver alumni members in 1979 had come up with the idea of building an apartment for low income seniors; they opened the Kappa Tower I in 1984 at E. 22nd Ave. and Downing. “They were having constant conversations about building another tower—but it never came to life,” says Williams. “In 2015, I became president of Kappa Housing, Inc. I announced we’d build—and if it wasn’t started within 5 years, I would leave the position.”
Thus started Williams’ journey, together with his Board of Directors, to build another housing project that recently culminated in the opening of Kappa Tower II at Northfield and Central Park boulevards.
He took classes on how to access tax credits from the federal government that could be used to finance income-qualified housing. They visited other senior housing facilities and talked to architects about what could feasibly be built. They got plans drawn and forms filed and land donated. In 2018, they submitted the Kappa Tower II application to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), the organization that looks at the most pressing housing needs in the state and decides who will get the federal tax credits that year.
Kappa Tower II didn’t make the cut in 2018, but it did get chosen to receive the tax credits in 2019. Construction broke ground on February 28, 2020. Despite the limitations and new restrictions imposed by the pandemic, construction stayed on schedule, and they got their occupancy permit in March of 2021.
Kappa Tower II includes almost every feature and amenity that the Board of Directors identified as important for a successful project. They have spacious apartments residents can be proud to live in and wide halls where they can walk for exercise in winter, as well as a workout room. They got green construction and approval for a fence around the building so residents would feel safe. They have an outdoor space for a garden to grow food and flowers. A swimming pool is a block away, a bus stop is just outside the door, and a major shopping center is nearby. The service coordinator from Kappa Housing I, Joslyn Reese, will work with the residents, encouraging them to be involved and arranging the services they want, such as games, outings, exercise classes, healthy eating classes, and speakers.
The building has 70 one- and two-bedroom units, and Kappa Housing has land and plans for a second phase that will attach to the building in an L shape and add 30-40 more units within a few years.
Some units are still available. To qualify, residents must be age 62 and older with income at 30 to 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). For information contact Lawanda Dudley, the community manager at 720.688.1217.
Kappa Tower II was built by Alliance Construction and designed by Kephardt Architecture.
Photos for Front Porch by Christie Gosch.