1) Planet Pioneers
A new space and science program is now open at the Wings Over the Rockies. Planet Pioneers offers 17 hands-on exhibits that enable children and families to enjoy the experience of space exploration and planet colonization. The simulations allow visitors to fly in a G-Force spinning capsule to depart the planet, fly through space, and land on Mars. Once they arrive, the visitors can colonize Mars by driving a 4-D Surface Exploration Vehicle to travel around the planet and by flying a virtual drone to solve environmental issues. During the mission, visitors overcome the many challenges that are required to live on the planet, such as sourcing oxygen, finding water, cultivating food, and building shelters. The Planet Pioneers exhibit originated in Australia and uses exciting entertainment to encourage children to learn about science. The program was brought to the Wings Over the Rockies in November, and it will remain open until January 8, 2023. The exhibit is included with the price of admission which is $11.95 for kids, $18.95 for adults, and $14.95 for seniors.
2) Motels Purchased by the Fax Partnership
Two motels on East Colfax were recently purchased by the Fax Partnership and will be transformed into affordable apartments. The Westerner and Sand & Sage motels are located beside each other along East Colfax between Wabash and Verbena. The nonprofit Fax Partnership intends to offer 120 affordable rooms to provide immediate shelter for people who are homeless or displaced. Although the long-term plan of the project is to tear down the motels and build new affordable housing structures, the construction plan has been delayed by an unexpected setback. A billboard that is located on the site has a lease that does not expire until 2028, and the Fax must wait for the lease to expire before they can rebuild on the property. In the meantime the Fax will start providing motel rooms for unhoused individuals starting in 2023.
3) UPDATE – OPENING PUSHED TO JANUARY…Organic Grocery Store to Open in Central Park Neighborhood
After several delays, the new Central Park Natural Grocers store plans to open in January with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and gift card give-away to the first 150 customers in line. Natural Grocers is known for selling only 100% certified organic produce and humanely-raised dairy and meat. Spokeswoman Katie Macarelli says stores are also intentionally smaller than other grocery stores. The Central Park location is just over 13,000 square feet. “We like to keep our footprint smaller. That’s better for the environment and it also means that every member of our crew is familiar with all of the products we sell. And it’s less overwhelming for customers. When you come to our stores, it should be a stress-free experience.”
The grocery store chain was started in 1955 in Golden and has since expanded to 164 stores in 21 states. The Central Park store is the 45th location in Colorado. In another effort to be eco-friendly, the new store has installed a state-of-the-art CO2 refrigeration system that is designed to use less energy.
Despite selling only organic produce, Macarelli says their products are affordable. “We were founded on the principle that everybody should be able to afford a healthy and active lifestyle.” Natural Grocers also offers free nutrition coaching and donates 5 cents per transaction to local food banks whenever customers bring their own shopping bags.
4) Affordable Apartments for Seniors
A new construction project that is preparing to break ground on Uinta Street will serve as an affordable apartment building for senior citizens. It is located on the northwest corner of Uinta and 22nd on a plot owned by St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church. The project is being implemented by Harsh Parikh, who is the President of Santulan Architecture. Parikh says he was inspired to build on this intersection by his connections to the neighborhood as a Central Park resident whose child went to school in the area. Parikh worked with the church to plan the building location and company manager Mahdi Alavi to form the architectural design. The four-story building will provide 50 affordable apartment units designated for seniors. The ground floor will also provide a lounge room, work space, community kitchen, exercise room, and party area. A roof deck will offer residents extensive views of the neighborhood and control tower on one side, and downtown Denver and the mountains on the other.
But the location was especially important to Parikh. Parents often walk on the neighborhood sidewalks and kids typically play outside the church daycare center. As a result, the ground floor of the building includes an open patio area that offers the seniors easy access to go outside and mingle with the community. He hopes that integrating the different generations together can enhance the age-diversity of the neighborhood and invigorate the energy-levels of the seniors. Construction for this senior affordable housing project will begin in the spring and is expected to take one year to complete.”
5) The Rose on Colfax
A new mixed-use development project called the Rose on Colfax combines the two concepts of affordable housing and attainable education. The project involves converting an abandoned adult club into a five-story apartment building that is located on the north side of East Colfax between Valentia and Verbena. The 35,688 square-foot building will offer 82 affordable apartment units to alleviate the displacement in the East Colfax neighborhood. Residential amenities include an outdoor play area, landscaped courtyard, community kitchen, and a free structured parking lot with 68 available spaces. The project also features a 5,600 square-foot space on the ground floor that will offer educational programs for children and occupational training for adults. The educational programs include youth programming, financial literacy, job readiness, and health promotion. The Rose on Colfax project is expected to be complete in December 2023, and it was fulfilled through a collaborative partnership between Mercy Housing, Mile High Early Learning, and the City and County of Denver.