Renaissance Downtown Lofts, 2019 ULI Global Awards for Excellence Finalist

Photo by Frank Ooms, Ooms Inc.

Location: Denver, Colorado, United States
Developers: Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and subsidiaries Renaissance Housing Development Corporation and Downtown Lofts Housing Corporation
Designers: Christopher Carvell Architects PC; FCI Constructors; Group14 Engineering
Site Size: 0.49 acres (0.2 ha)

 

From the outside, Renaissance Downtown Lofts looks like most new apartment buildings in Denver; inside, it offers the city’s homeless population a chance at stability. The appearance of the building offers a sense of dignity to homeless individuals and seeks to mitigate the sense of isolation that often comes with homelessness. The lofts sit on a site that had been an abandoned one-story drive-up bank in Denver’s Arapahoe Square neighborhood.

The Lofts provide a place for the homeless to escape the isolation and stigma of homelessness. Photo by Frank Ooms, Ooms Inc.
Cross-section of the apartments at Renaissance Downtown Lofts Photo by Christopher Carvell Architects PC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, thanks to Colorado’s Coalition for the Homeless, it is a six-story apartment building with social services, including job programs, mental health services, and addiction treatment located on the first floor. There are 101 one- and two-bedroom apartments designed to provide housing and stability for homeless individuals and families. The building also has several common spaces, such as a shared kitchen, a community lounge, and a green roof and raised courtyard. The lofts are less than a quarter mile (0.4 km) from two light-rail stations, allowing residents easy access to transit.

The Renaissance Downtown Lofts is a transit-oriented development, offering residents easy access to public transportation. Photo by Christopher Carvell Architects PC
Prescient’s digital design-build framing system was used to reduce costs and help achieve sustainability goals. Photo by Christopher Carvell Architects PC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The city has estimated that Renaissance Downtown Lofts will help save $2.9 million per year by providing services that the homeless otherwise would not receive. US Bank donated the land, and construction was funded by a social impact bond program and private investment for upfront costs. As part of the social impact bond program, the city repays investors only if the residents stay out of jail and detox; the city made its first payment in October 2018. The site is oddly shaped, so to cut down on costs and aid in attaining sustainability goals, prefabricated Prescient light-gauge steel panels were used. The building exceeds the criteria for Enterprise Green Communities.

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