The Northfield Apartments officially opened their doors to residents on Nov. 4. The 84-unit affordable-housing complex at the corner of Northfield Blvd. and Trenton St. features one-, two-, and three-bedroom units and serves households making less than 60 percent of the area median income, or $48,060 for a family of four. Rents range from about $650 to $1,150 per month.
“This Stapleton community is special. More so than any other neighborhood that I get the privilege of working in across the city, this is a ‘Yes in my backyard’ neighborhood,” said Robin Kniech, city councilwoman at-large, who attended the opening ceremony. “I have residents say to me, ‘When are we going to get more affordable housing? Not because I need it, I’m a lawyer, I’m an architect, but I want it in my community, I want to be a part of that.’”
This development is the first for-rent affordable housing complex north of I-70 in Stapleton, and it represents an approximately 30 percent increase in for-rent affordable housing in Stapleton, bringing the total rental units to approximately 361, out of 8,181 total housing units in Stapleton as of mid-summer.
The majority of the Northfield Apartments are two- and three-bedroom units designed for families. The complex was 100 percent leased within a day and a half with over 500 interested parties, showing the incredible demand for affordable housing in Denver.
An Ethiopian proverb holds that “one day’s rain cannot get deep into the soil,” said Gete Mekonnen, executive director of Northeast Denver Housing Center (NDHC), referring to the scope of the project in relation to the overall demand in Denver. Mayor Michael Hancock added, “In order for us to make a dent, we need not a one-day rain, but we simply need to flood this city with the commitment to affordable housing, and that’s why it is the top priority in the city going forward.” Noting that the complex will serve citizens making 30–60 percent of family median income (FMI), Hancock praised the project’s many partners for digging deep to meet the considerable challenges it faced.
This $19 million project is particularly notable because it is the first project completed using a $1.7 million loan from the City of Denver’s new Revolving Affordable Housing Loan Fund (RAHLF). The developer, NDHC, worked with the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) to coordinate the collaboration of several entities, including subsidies from Forest City Stapleton, First Bank, federal and state credits, and home funds awarded from both the city of Denver and state of Colorado. Despite the complex layers of funding and participation, the project was completed on budget and on time, according to Mekonnen.
The property is place-based—within walking distance “there are over 6,000 jobs, a shopping center with a full-service grocery store, a pharmacy, movie theaters, an open pedestrian mall, and within a mile we have the Stapleton transit station,” said Mekonnen.
Northfield Apartments features private patios, a children’s play area and organic gardening planters. It is also sustainable, with xeriscape landscaping, solar panels and energy-efficient gas and electrical systems. According to Mekonnen, residents will have access to a community center for classes on healthy eating, healthy cooking, gardening, and after-school programs for kids.
Speaking to the importance of affordable housing regionally, a number of elected representatives were on hand to mark the occasion including Rep. Diana DeGette, District 8 Councilman Christopher Herndon, Mayor Michael B. Hancock, and City Councilwomen At-Large Robin Kneich and Debbie Ortega.