DENVER — The Denver Housing Authority hopes a 194-unit hotel in the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood will become the city’s next permanent homeless shelter, but it will need to be rezoned for that to happen.
On Saturday, District 8 neighbors met with Denver Mayor Mike Johnston and District 8 Councilwoman Shontel Lewis to discuss the future of the Best Western Hotel on Quebec Street.
“Without us being at the table to call out these consequences, we could cause more harm than good in our neighborhood,” said Stephanie Syner, who’s lived in Northeast Park Hill for 15 years.
The hotel is located in a highly industrial area and will need to be rezoned before it’s converted into what the DHA calls permanent “supportive housing” with wrap-around services.
“If you want to build new affordable housing, it might take $400,000 per unit and might take three or four years to get a permanent site built. These are units we can often convert for about $100,000. And right away, you got a kitchen, a shower, a bathroom … it's like a full studio apartment ready to turn the key tomorrow,” said Mayor Johnston.
Many living in District 8 want the mayor to be equitable in his placement of these hotels. In Saturday’s meeting, Johnston acknowledged more sites will be coming online in the new year.
“Putting more and more burden on this district  is not the answer,” said Jesse Parris.
Syner proposed creating an advisory committee for these hotel sites so everyone has a say, while keeping the city accountable.
“You can't just keep opening the doors without looking at what's working and what's not working. And we need to be at the table for that,” Syner said.