An innovative mixed-use development planned for the Auraria Campus would provide affordable housing options for qualifying Metropolitan State University of Denver employees and other members of the community as well as a new home for the University’s Classroom to Career Hub. 

The building project — a collaboration with the Auraria Higher Education Center, campus partners and developer Columbia Ventures — would also offer retail and commercial office space as well as a new, larger location for the Auraria Early Learning Center.

AHEC’s Board of Directors approved the project last week.  

The planned project includes more than 400,000 square feet of space across two buildings that will be constructed on the 2-acre lot east of the Tivoli Parking Garage, near the intersection of Auraria Parkway and 11th Street. Once the site of MSU Denver’s baseball field, the so-called Ballfield Lot will now serve as an economic catalyst and will help make the Auraria Campus more sustainable, said James Mejia, MSU Denver’s chief strategy officer, who has been spearheading the project on behalf of the University. 

“Not only are we aiming to support MSU Denver employees by providing access to affordable housing, but we hope to be a catalyst in the reinvention of community in downtown Denver,” he said. 

James Mejia

According to an AHEC news release, the development will include more than 300 units of mixed-income housing reserved for tenants earning an anticpated range of 60% to 120% of the area median income. A portion of these units will be available exclusively to eligible faculty and staff members from all three Auraria Campus institutions of higher learning.   

MSU Denver’s Office of Strategic Initiatives and Analytics is asking faculty and staff members to fill out a short survey that will help determine how many units will be set aside for employees. 

Plans for the development also include a 25,000-square-foot space for the C2 Hub, MSU Denver’s career-development program that connects industry partners with students for internships, work experiences, mentoring and jobs. 

Gary Community Ventures will invest in building the affordable-housing units, while Auraria Campus partners are seeking a mix of state, federal, private-investment and philanthropic dollars for other construction and programmatic costs. 

Under current plans, which are subject to change, AHEC would break ground on the first building (containing office and commercial space) next summer. That building is slated for completion in December 2025. Construction on the second building (containing residential space) would begin in early 2025 and be completed in late 2026.