AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Final phase of Village at Westerly Creek construction kicks off

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AURORA | After a decade of planning and construction, the final phase of the Village at Westerly Creek affordable housing site is finally breaking ground. Around 70 more seniors and families will be able to move into the units in late 2018.

The Aurora Housing Authority has completed 120 affordable housing units in the first two phases of the nine-year project. This final phase will add 24 more senior units, which officials at the authority say is important for a growing population of seniors in Aurora.

Just as significant are the 50 units specifically for working families with children. Prior to the start of the third phase of the project, AHA Executive Director Craig Maraschky said the need for affordable housing in the Denver metro area “cannot be overstated.”

The average rental price for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,574, up 2.3 percent from the year before, according to rentjungle.com.

The family units will range from two-bedroom to four-bedroom townhomes. The authority doesn’t have official guidelines on income qualifications yet for a family to meet to move into the units. Maraschky said marketing of the final phase of the project is set to begin in about nine months when construction is well on its way to being finished.

“This is very exciting for us,” Maraschky said. “We were able to create this from the ground up.”

The site was once Buckinghams Gardens, the former senior public housing walk-ups. AHA has owned the land since the 1970s.

And aside from the convenience of the building site — Maraschky said AHA rarely sells its buildings, so redevelopment is key — the project is aesthetically pleasing. It has already picked up awards for its ultra-modern design.

In 2013 the project was named Best New Affordable Senior Housing by Senior Housing News. Most recently, Village at Westerly Creek won the 2015 People’s Choice Award, based on how “cutting-edge” the project is, from Housing Colorado.

“We really wanted this project to blend into the community,” Maraschky said. “We didn’t want people to look at it and think it was public housing.”

Beyond the exterior, the $53-million project, paid for through a variety of federal, state and local funds, doesn’t feel like the bleak, minimal housing projects of the past, either.

The housing site will feature community gardens, an outdoor recreation space and event rooms for seniors and families.

The cost of the final phase is expected to be $22 million. In May, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority awarded AHA with federal and state income housing tax credits for the final phase of the project.

While the housing authority isn’t actually part of Aurora government, the city did help out with some infrastructure needs and was supportive of the project, Maraschky said.