National Recognition for Denver’s Sun Valley

Date Posted: 03.21.2017

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently awarded the Denver Housing Authority a Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant of $30 million to catalyze mixed-income redevelopment of the Sun Valley EcoDistrict. The award recognizes the exemplary and replicable approach to equitable development in Denver’s poorest neighborhood, where more than 70% of residents live below the poverty level and over 50% are under 18 years old. Sun Valley is among five communities receiving Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grants nationwide; only one other community has combined Choice Neighborhoods with the EcoDistrict model.

Convergence and Innovation
Mithun led the Sun Valley neighborhood redevelopment master plan, which incorporates 750 units of mixed-income housing, and a focus on youth with an education hub, new riverfront park and regional trail access. A new ‘Maker District’ including commercial and incubator space for small businesses and an international food market will provide economic opportunities and leverage the adjacent industrial area. The plan also highlights Sun Valley’s unique history of food production with a three-acre commercial urban farm and food production facility visible from the light rail station. Design features emphasize connections to the South Platte River and natural areas; an interactive and safe public realm; and better pedestrian, bicycle, and transit access that makes it easy to be active.

The highly inclusive, stakeholder-driven master plan uses the EcoDistrict Protocol to establish a vision and goals including progressive energy and water infrastructure to bring a higher quality of life to a range of family sizes and income levels, welcoming current and new residents. The Sun Valley EcoDistrict has formed as a nonprofit entity of property owners and stakeholders to collectively pursue these district-scale strategies and achieve significant savings and environmental benefits for residents, businesses and property owners.

Partnerships for Equitable Growth
Denver is one of the most rapidly growing cities in the country, and this intentional approach to address inclusion, health, resilience, and identity is essential for success. Along with a planned entertainment district at the adjacent Stadium at Mile High, Sun Valley hopes to be the catalyst of the newly formed West Denver Renaissance Collaborative—as the most welcoming, resilient community in Denver. DHA expects the Choice Neighborhoods grant to generate $500 million in investment, triple the density of Sun Valley and reconnect it to the rest of the city.

Sun Valley is also one of six communities to join the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Districts Accelerator, in which they will work with the U.S. Department of Energy, EcoDistricts, and several other national partners to develop best practices, address market barriers and promote industry-wide replication of net zero energy building adoption.