• July 21st, 2024
  • Sunday, 07:17:50 AM

Tepeyac Community Health Center Close to Completion of New Facility


Photo: The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Jim García, CEO for Tepeyac Community Health Center on the pedestrian bridge overlooking the Center’s news facility.

By Belen Pizarro

 

Tepeyac Community Health Center (formerly Clinica Tepeyac) has served the Denver area’s uninsured for nearly three decades, filling our community’s health gap inequities.

 

Photo: The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Tepeyac Community Health Center is scheduled to open in October or November this year.

This year Tepeyac Community Health Center is preparing for their most ambitious endeavor, opening a new clinic at 48th Ave. and Vine St., just a few blocks from the National Western Complex. The Health Center will feature integrated health services that will include expanded medical, dental, mental health services and preventive care.

 

One of the unique features of this project is that, above Tepeyac’s new clinical facility, there will be 150 units of affordable housing, along with retail space that will offer fresh food and grocery options in a neighborhood that is a food desert.

 

The Tepeyac Community Health Center and Viña apartments represent the first phase of an affordable mixed-use development that encompasses six acres across an entire city block in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood in northeast Denver.

 

The Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), Columbia Ventures, and Tepeyac Community Health Center broke ground on the project in October of 2020.

 

“Denver is extremely proud to have made a key land investment here years ago through the ULC, and to continue investing in much-needed affordable housing that will serve the community for generations to come,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.

 

Photo: The Weekly Issue/El Semanario The units at Viña are nicely designed with open floor plans.

Developed by Columbia Ventures, the Viña apartments offers units ranging from studios to three bedrooms, with a focus on serving lower income families. Forty-five units are income restricted to households earning up to 30 percent of the area median income (AMI), which is up to $21,000 for a single-person household or up to $30,000 for a four-person household.

 

Thirty units are income restricted for households earning up to 50 percent of the AMI, and 75 units are restricted for those earning up to 80 percent AMI.

 

Viña offers more units at 30 percent AMI than all 19 affordable projects in the defined market area. This range of affordability was reached following a number of community meetings with neighborhood stakeholders to help drive the need for deeply affordable housing options in this part of the city.

 

Throughout the process, Jim García, Chief Executive Officer of Tepeyac Community Health Center, has been instrumental ensuring that Tepeyac stays true to its original mission, to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community have access to high quality healthcare.

 

“The real test will be, if we can keep the same focus that we’ve always had in terms of ensuring that every person who walks through our doors feels as though they are an honored guest in our home and that they know that they will be treated with the highest level of respect and compassion,” said García.

 

Photo: The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Viña’s indoor common areas feature a library, a media room and gathering spots.

Over the past two years, García has made it his daily routine to visit the construction site monitoring the project’s progress. According to García, the Health Center plans to open its doors in October or November of this year.

 

García recently spoke with Chris Frésquez, Publisher of El Semanario, and gave a tour of the new facility and shared how this innovative project was launched.

 

“The project here started about four and a half years ago when the Urban Land Conservancy invited us to be one of the collaborating partners involved in developing the six-acre site that ULC had purchased with a loan from the city of Denver,” said García.

 

“Aaron Miripol, Urban Land Conservancy’s CEO, approached us, as a health organization with a long history of serving the community, to be the anchor organization for the project,” explained García.

 

“Prior to our involvement, ULC coordinated a series focus groups within the Elyria/Swansea community, asking residents what services they would like to see at the six-acre site. The priorities that came out of the focus groups were, access to quality healthcare, affordable housing and a grocery store that offered fresh food” said García, noting that these priorities aligned perfectly with Tepeyac’s vision for a healthy community.

 

Photo: The Weekly Issue/El Semanario The Tepeyac Community Health Center and Viña living community features a mural by local artist Jolt, expressing the beauty of monarch butterflies in relation to migration.

García shared that the process for financing the project was an arduous journey that required intensive collaboration between the three partners – Tepeyac, ULC and Columbia Ventures, the developer for the project.

 

To get the project off the ground, Columbia Ventures, with the support of Tepeyac and ULC, applied for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA),” explained García.

 

“We were told early on that we shouldn’t expect our LIHTC application to be approved the first time around, but in this case, the CHFA board approved it, noting the unique blend of affordable housing, healthcare, and fresh food/retail,” said García.

 

While touring the neighborhood near the future site of the new clinic, García pointed out, the pedestrian bridge that provides safe passage for residents crossing the railroad tracks, connecting the Elyria/Swansea neighborhoods.

 

“As I look out from the high point on this bridge, I can see the Elyria, Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods, our new building, as well as the skyline of Denver,” he said. “More than anything, I see hope for a community that has struggled to overcome adversity.”

 

 

“As I look out from the high point on this bridge, I can see the Elyria, Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods, our new building, as well as the skyline of Denver. More than anything, I see hope for a community that has struggled to overcome adversity.”
Jim García, Tepeyac Community Health Center

 

Several of the housing units are complete and feature well-thought-out amenities. Each unit has a washer and dryer (important for affordable housing tenants), updated design and layout, and some offer bathrooms with wheelchair accessibility in the showers.

 

Photo: The Weekly Issue/El Semanario The playground at Viña welcomes children and families to enjoy the outdoors.

The common areas of the building are bright and welcoming to families and children. “They paid a lot of attention to detail in creating a welcoming space, even down to the colors that were selected in the common areas,” added García.

 

Several gathering spaces and a small library offer the residents a sense of community.

 

Viña offers outdoor barbeque grills with space for residents to enjoy patio style areas. There is also a storage area for bikes and potentially charging stations for electric vehicles.

 

García also noted that a parking garage will be added over time. “We have set aside funding for a parking garage, but that won’t happen for at least a couple of years,” he said.

 

A portion of the exterior features a brilliantly colored mural painted by local artist, Jeremy Silas Ulibarri (aka Jolt). It features monarch butterflies, “the monarch patterns of migration of our community – a beautiful metamorphosis,” explained García.

 

For more information about Tepeyac Community Health Center visit tepeyachealth.org or call 303-458-5302, the Health Center is currently located at 5075 Lincoln St., Denver, CO.

 

Belén Pizarro is an Intern Reporter with The Weekly Issue/El Semanario.

Photo: The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Viña’s courtyard offers family-oriented amenities and outdoor gathering spaces.

 

Photo: The Weekly Issue/El Semanario The exterior of Tepeyac Community Health Center and Viña is bright and welcoming.

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