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Neighborhood concerned about plans to turn Denver church into low-income housing

St. Francis Center proposal calls for 48 units
Posted at 3:31 PM, Feb 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-07 12:36:00-05

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DENVER -- A proposal to turn a more than century-old church into low-income housing is moving forward, but some neighbors are opposed to the idea.

"We’re trying to create workforce housing, many of the community members who will live there are people who have struggled keeping jobs because they can’t find housing that they can really afford on the salary that they’re making in Denver," said Tom Luehrs, the Executive Director for the St. Francis Center.

The St. Francis Center has plans to turn the former Warren United Methodist Church into dormitory-style housing. The church, located at 1630 E 14th Avenue, will be outfitted with 48 private units. There will also be common spaces like bathrooms, living rooms and a dining room.

"Part of what we hope to build into that space, too, is a sense of community, so people will live a lot together and support each other in their efforts to become eventually independent," said Luehrs.

The plans took some nearby property owners by surprise and left them feeling like they weren't part of the conversation.

"I’ve been told by a lot of residents, 'Well, I didn’t know about that,'" said Chris Mast, who owns two apartments by the church.

Mast said he is concerned about his homeless neighbors but he wonders if the site, located in an already dense area, is the right fit for this project. He also wonders about safety, who will end up living at the church, and parking.

"This is a good solution for homelessness, not in this particular area," said Mast.

The Denver Landmark Preservation Commission has scheduled a hearing about the project on March 3.

According to the St. Francis Center, construction could begin as early as April 2020 with hopes of completing the renovation by the end of this year or early 2021.