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DENVER-The Lowry Redevelopment Authority broke ground on 68 affordably priced townhomes in the mixed-use community’s Southwest Neighborhood. The townhomes, part of Lowry’s commitment to for-sale homes for the city’s workforce, will range in size from 1,200 to 1,600 sf, with two and three-bedrooms.

They will be priced from about $135,000 to $145,000, while comparable market-rate units would cost about $200,000.

“Affordable housing is crucial to Denver’s economic vitality and diversity,” says Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who helped plant a tree as a symbol of the groundbreaking.”We cannot afford for companies to take their jobs elsewhere because employees cannot afford to live here,” Hickenlooper adds. “I applaud Lowry’s commitment to meeting the need of affordable housing in Denver. By enabling people to live close to where they work, we can reduce traffic congestion, sprawl an d improve our quality of life.”

The Maple Park Townhomes, to be built by the Writer Corp. for the LRA, are priced for buyers with incomes ranging from $39,120 to $60,400, depending on the size of the household. This is the salary range for households at or below 80% of the area median income.

The townhomes will be the first for-sale homes administered by the Lowry Community Land Trust, a nonprofit organization created by the LRA.

The land trust model was selected in order to keep homes affordable in perpetuity. In this model, the homeowner owns the homes (structures and improvements) and the land trust owns the land. A small monthly payment is made to the land trust to lease the land, limiting the equity. This, in turn, limits the resale price of the home. In this way, the homeowner can earn some equity toward the purchase of anew home and the land trust home remains affordable to the next homebuyers.

“This is a novel approach,” David Herlinger, LRA board member and chairman of the Lowry Community Land Trust tells GlobeSt.com. “This will grow to be the largest land trust west of the Mississippi River,” he adds. He says he hopes to provide similar services outside of Lowry.

“This program is the result of extensive research, market testing and extraordinary commitments from the public and private sectors,” says Herlinger, former executive director of the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. “We’re committed to building homes at Lowry for all Denver citizens and we’ve found a bold way to do it.”

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