By José Esparza
Del Corazon, a new project by St. Charles Town Company in Denver’s Westwood neighborhood, broke ground in October 2016. The project infills a 4.5-acre area on two parcels on either side of Morrison Road between South Utica and South Stuart streets and includes 197 apartment homes in seven buildings (three buildings on the south site and four on the north site). Del Corazon is being developed for renters at 60% or below the area median income, with about three-quarters of the apartments as 2-bedroom units and the rest divided between 1-bedroom and 3-bedroom options.
The groundbreaking ceremony included local public officials such as Executive Director Paul Washington of Denver’s Office of Economic Development (pictured below), Councilman Paul Lopez, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. In addition, the ceremony included uniquely designed shovels created by local Westwood Artist, Santiago Jaramillo.
Del Corazon, meaning “from the heart”, got its name through a public outreach effort around the neighborhood with influence from a 2013 Urban Land Institute report (PDF) commissioned by the Colorado Health Foundation’s Healthy Places Initiative, which recommended celebrating the local culture and defining Morrison Road as the heart of the neighborhood. St. Charles Town Company embraced additional recommendations of the panel by working with Denver Botanical Gardens to add vegetable gardens, a Plaza at the intersection of Ohio and Morrison Road, and a futsal soccer court for its residents to be active.
The architectural style for Del Corazon was inspired by the vibrant Latino cultural influences on the Westwood neighborhood. The combination of Southwest-style architecture paired with the many colorful small businesses along Morrison Road make for a unique design that will drastically improve the urban streetscape in Westwood. Del Corazon residents will enjoy community social space, including a large vegetable kitchen and lounge area with fireplace, computer center, fitness center, wrap-around barbecue patio, playground, seating plaza and the above-mentioned futsal soccer court.
Below are two bird’s-eye views from DenverInfill’s Ryan Dravitz before construction began. On the left is the north site with downtown off on the horizon and on the right is the south site.
This development will update public sidewalks along Morrison Road to city code while also adding a tree and amenity zone. Westwood’s first HAWK (High-Intensity Activated Cross Walk) signal with a protected median will be installed to improve pedestrian safety as community members cross Morrison Road to use the Del Corazon amenities. In addition, St. Charles Town Company was able to attract a car-sharing program available to the public, which is also a first for the Westwood neighborhood.
Construction of Del Corazon is scheduled to be completed in 16 months. The project is an Energy Star-certified project with the intent of being energy conscious and ultimately reducing utility costs for residents. The first building will be completed within 12 months as the remainder are phased in throughout the remaining four months in the construction schedule.
José Esparza came to Denver in 2011 to study urban planning. He attained a BS in Architecture from the University of Michigan and a MURP from the University of Colorado Denver. Currently, José is Executive Director of West Community Economic Development Corporation, a 501c3 non-profit in west Denver, and serves on the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee.