Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Awards 2017 Finalist: Casitas de Colores

Casitas de Colores has brought much needed affordable housing for families to downtown Albuquerque. Designed to inspire an active lifestyle and to build community, residents can easily access the ABQ BioPark Zoo, Alvarado Transportation Center, restaurants, theaters, employment, schools, and family services, making its location ideal for families and spurring 24-hour activity. Its residents have contributed to the growing diversity, sustainability, accessibility, and culture in the community. The pedestrian-friendly housing community has been an important development, helping push forward the City of Albuquerque’s Downtown 2025 Sector Development Plan, which prioritizes pedestrians, a “park once” concept, and community activity.

Tuck-under parking provides one parking space per unit to allow residents to leave their cars behind and utilize public transportation. It also creates convenient, secure bicycle storage as another transportation option for residents. Because Casitas de Colores has been successful in bringing people back to the city’s core, new developments, including a mixed-use project that will bring downtown its first full-sized grocery store and eliminate the area’s “food desert” designation, are underway.

The site is located within two blocks of the City’s multi-modal transportation center with walkable access to live/work/play locations and the City’s major hike/bike trail system. The infrastructure and alley-ways constructed on this urban infill site were repurposed and the site completely redesigned to provide an engaged affordable housing community of appropriate scale for the north edge of the Barrelas Neighborhood in the heart of Downtown Albuquerque.

The site’s buildings wrap around simple, protected courtyards surrounded with single loaded exterior walkways to increase daylight, views, and cross-ventilation promoting recreation and community interaction. With circulation and staircases at the perimeter of the courtyard, visibility of apartment front doors supports safety, and light wells impose distance between the apartment units and the main circulation to reinforce privacy.

Families can also access important social services through a full-time staffed education classroom and social service provider. A demonstration kitchen, laundry facilities, and a fitness center are additional onsite family services. Sustainable aspects are incorporated into typically underutilized areas to maximize use of the site for livable and community space. Photovoltaic arrays are located on rooftops and help lower resident utility bills, while underground cisterns store rainfall for irrigation. Casitas de Colores achieved LEED Platinum certification on all three residential buildings, and a LEED Gold certification on the community building.

Location: Albuquerque, NM
Developer: Romero Rose, LLC and YES Housing, Inc.
Owner: Romero Rose, LLC and YES Housing, Inc.
Partners:
Dekker/Perich/Sabatini (Architect); Bradbury Stamm Construction (General Contractor)

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