By Eric Heinz
Situated much like the United Nations building, a thin crescent of a structure, the former Clarion Hotel was recently purchased by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) to create transitional housing and interim shelter.
The former Clarion, 200 W. 48th Ave., will now be called Renewal Village, according to Cathy Alderman, a spokesperson for CCH.
“The ability to convert properties into housing means that we don’t have to wait to build, get tax credits and all of the stuff that makes a new build more expensive and a more lengthy process,” Alderman said. “So we have kind of continually been looking for other properties that would be appropriate for conversion.”
CCH began purchasing existing properties in 2019, and then during the COVID pandemic they were able to purchase and rent hotels and motels, specifically for people without permanent housing who had advanced health risks from catching the virus.
The Denver City Council recently approved a $10.4-million contract with CCH to help support the acquisition. The total amount was around $27 million, which was made up with grants and donations, Alderman said.
The property will provide 108 income- restricted rental studios and 107 single- room-occupancy units to be operated as individual shelter rooms. The rental studios will be income-restricted for individuals who earn no more than 30% or 50% of the area median income.
State housing vouchers will serve individuals with the lowest incomes and those who potentially have no income at all, according to the Denver Department of Housing Stability (HOST). State housing vouchers at Renewal Village will ensure that residents pay no more than 30% of their income on rent, even if they have no income.
“The hotel is in pretty good shape,” Alderman said. “About half of the rooms will be for longer-term supportive housing, and about half of the rooms are for what we refer to as residential care. Not necessarily like assisted living, but it’s for people who are currently experiencing homelessness and have mental or physical health conditions that need a little more assistance.”
Some of the existing renovations CCH will need to make before it reopens the hotel, slated for late this year, include adding accessibility for people with disabilities. The property is the largest hotel in Denver to be converted into shelter and housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, according to HOST.
What makes this hotel different from others CCH has acquired is that it has a large kitchen that used to serve a restaurant on the ground floor. This will allow CCH to provide congregate meals for its tenants, particularly those who are in severe residential care, and there are spaces for counseling and for people to find permanent supportive housing.
Alderman said CCH is working to establish an RTD bus line in the future, as the hotel is located outside of walking distance for certain services, but until then she said the coalition can shuttle people with a van to downtown if they need to.
Additionally, Alderman said the nearby former La Quinta Inn, 3500 Park Avenue West, which the city of Denver purchased in 2022, will be demolished to make way for a facility with about 200 rooms that will also serve people experiencing homelessness.