Habitat for Humanity’s Aria project grows the Regis community

When the Sisters of St. Francis sold their Northwest Denver convent and the surrounding 25 acres in 2006, their goal was simple: ensure the land serves as a space for eco-friendly, affordable housing.

It’s safe to say the latest construction project in the neighborhood now known as Aria Denver more than meets that criteria. Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver broke ground on Aria Homes by Habitat at the beginning of the year, paving the way for 28 new affordable homes to be completed over the next couple of years.

“For Habitat for Humanity, we were really excited to be able to acquire some of the land,” said Robyn Burns, director of communications and marketing for Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. “The sisters wanted it redeveloped with accessible, affordable, diverse housing and a way to inspire connectedness within the neighbors and the community. That was kind of the vision for Aria Denver as it's being redeveloped today.”

Marycrest, the original convent first built in 1953, served as a home for the sisters and later, a school, assisted living facilities and daycare. The new community currently features affordable apartments, townhomes, commercial space, open space and urban agriculture. Habitat’s townhomes will feature two, three and four-bedroom models.

On a regular basis, the site welcomes a mix of volunteers, from skilled tradespeople to those who volunteer for one day. Burns said the project is currently looking for about 20 daily volunteers to help every Thursday through Saturday. Depending on the phase of construction, they can expect to complete a wide range of tasks, from raising walls to landscaping.

The homes are located less than a mile east of Regis University’s Northwest Denver Campus, providing opportunities for faculty, staff and students to volunteer — and consider buying a home.

The new homes address a major housing need in Metro Denver. Often, essential members of the community, from teachers to nurses, struggle to find housing.

“Across all of Metro Denver, the need for affordable housing and specifically affordable homeownership has never been greater,” Burns said. “We're seeing the headlines almost every day for what a crazy housing market it is.”

But Burns said many people don’t consider Habitat as an option for buying a home.

“Habitat is one of the best first-time homebuyer opportunities out there, and especially in a high-cost market like Denver,” she said. “The price points start in the $200,000s, which is so much more accessible than what we're seeing at the market rate.”

To learn more about the project, visit habitatmetrodenver.org/aria.