Uncle Sam awards $4.5 million
In what the government described as an “unprecedented collaboration” between three federal agencies, $4.5 million was awarded in Denver on Wednesday. The funds are earmarked to help stimulate a “new generation of sustainable and livable communities in Colorado,” according to the government. The award will connect housing, employment and economic development with transportation and other infrastructure improvements.
HUD, DOT, EPA
The funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The announcement was made at a news conference in Five Points.
“Vibrant downtown business districts are the mark of successful communities,” Gov. Bill Ritter said. “These funds will help Colorado communities improve their central business districts and create a brighter and more sustainable future.”
Rick Garcia, director of Region VIII for HUD, which includes Colorado, and long a champion of affordable housing and better transportation, said the three federal agencies working together with provide a boost to housing, transportation and land use.
“We all know that these have been tough times for our communities – and that the problems facing our country result from nearly a decade of failed economic policies,” Garcia said.
“And we know that these policies were deepened by a housing bubble that forced families to move further and further away from where they worked in order to find an affordable home,” Garcia continued.” In this economic crisis, people in the city and in remote areas have often been hit hard. As a result, the average American now spends 50 cents of every dollar on housing and transportation costs and the imprint on the environment is costly.”
Uuniting the efforts of HUD, DOT and the EPA, will “boost economic development to ensure that all Americans can afford to live in communities with access to employment, schools and public transit options,” Garcia said. “At a time when every dollar the federal government invests in jump-starting the economy is critical, President Obama’s plan ensures that all three agencies are coordinating efforts and targeting resources with precision.”
Today’s announcement includes two joint HUD-DOT grants that will support local and regional partnerships seeking to create a more “holistic and integrated” approach to connecting affordable housing, job opportunities and transportation corridor, according to the government. EPA also awarded two Brownfield area-wide planning grants to the cities of Aurora and Denver, which will help these cities achieve property cleanup and urban renewal goals more efficiently.
All cylinders firing
“ Today three federal agencies come together to produce a win-win for local communities around the country,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said in a statement. “We’re helping local and regional planners connect all the dots in their efforts to make their communities more sustainable and livable. These grants will help communities to hit on all cylinders, producing more affordable housing near good jobs and commercial centers which will help to reduce our energy consumption and increase competitiveness.”
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, added: “With the investments HUD and DOT are making today, we are strengthening neighborhoods by connecting housing with affordable and sustainable transportation choices. This is a win-win for people who live in these communities because they will have travel options to better serve them.”
“The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is working with Colorado communities from the farms to the cities to set them on a path for growth that is environmentally and economically sustainable,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “The cleaner transit options and sustainable techniques made possible through these grants will create jobs and open up economic opportunities for the future. Through this broad Partnership we’re making commonsense, collaborative investments that achieve exceptional results for the people in these communities.”
The awards include:
- A total of $2.95 million to Denver’s Community Planning and Development agency for the Denver TOD Program – Strategic Implementation that will support construction of Denver’s scheduled 2013 opening of the West Corridor light rail line by integrating housing and commercial development with transportation choices. The grant funds will be used to implement Transit-Oriented Development programs, including comprehensive and multimodal planning adjacent to future transit stations and high frequency bus corridors. The planning process will include affordable housing land banking, station area plan implementation, preliminary design, and public outreach. Leveraged, the award is worth $7.9 million, according to the city.
- The Colorado Department of Local Affairs will be awarded $1.28 million. The Colorado Sustainable Main Streets Initiative will help Colorado communities pursue a joint planning initiative to redevelop their downtowns and overcome barriers of aging infrastructure. These include the Five Points neighborhood in Denver, and the communities of Fowler, Monte Vista and Rifle. Plans will focus on pedestrian friendly transit-oriented development, historic preservation, arts and culture, land use changes, energy efficiency, downtown revitalization, design and engineering of transportation projects, affordable housing and land acquisition. Grant dollars will target the renewal, renovation, reconstruction and reconfiguration of properties to produce a sustainable future in urban neighborhoods and agricultural communities.
- Denver will receive a $175,000 EPA Brownfield planning grant. The grant will help the city develop a South Platte River Area Plan and will leverage additional progress in transforming the river into a celebrated greenway and part of a sustainable city. The city will engage in a community planning effort to develop a systematic strategy for assessment, cleanup and reuse of properties. The South Platte River Brownfield Impacted Area consists of a quarter-mile buffer from the river along the 10.9-mile river length within the city’s boundaries, encompassing 2,040 acres. There are a total of 33 identified Brownfield sites in the area, including several historic landfills and railway corridors.
- City of Aurora: $115,000 EPA Brownfield planning grant. Aurora will use this grant to identify cleanup and redevelopment opportunities in northwest Aurora, including along the Montview Corridor. The project area encompasses more than 300 acres, an area with 41 known Brownfield sites. The city will conduct an analysis of the project area, engage in stakeholder outreach, and conduct planning workshops to identify specific redevelopment opportunities.
Today’s announcement is part of a coordinated national effort by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Under this partnership, HUD is awarding $40 million in new grants to help support local planning designed to integrate affordable housing, good jobs and public transportation. Meanwhile, DOT is awarding nearly $28 million in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) II Planning Grants to implement localized plans for projects that integrate transportation, housing and economic development.
In addition, Denver and Aurora are among 23 communities nationwide receiving a total of $4 million from EPA to develop area-wide plans for the reuse of brownfield properties.
Launched by President Obama in June 2009, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities is an innovative inter-agency collaboration, between the DOT, HUD, EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Guided by six Livability Principles, the partnership is designed to remove the traditional federal government silos that exist between departments and strategically target the agencies’ transportation, land use, environmental, housing and community development resources to provide communities the resources they need to build more livable, sustainable communities.
Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com
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John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.!
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