City, Community Group Spar Over National Western Funds, Future

For more information on the 2E National Western bond, check out our lead story on the front page.

On October 4, The Denver City Council voted to approve a $400,000 grant “to Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods to enlist their choice of professional advisors to secure community benefits at the National Western Center redevelopment.”

The grant, requested by the National Western Center Authority, is intended to address several purposes:

  • Advocating for the community’s desires in future phases of the redevelopment
  • Negotiating a community benefits agreement
  • Establishing an entity to accept contributions to the Community Investment Fund
  • Identifying new campus-based sources of revenue for the fund

According to the release sent out by the city, “Community benefits agreements often include anti-displacement measures, affordable housing requirements, and land-use and design choices.”

Not everyone is celebrating though. The G.E.S. Coalition, which describes themselves as “a collective of neighbors organizing around health and housing justice,” questioned the lack of details, calling the commitments “extremely vague.” The G.E.S. Coalition says they represent over 300 active members and have over 50 currently engaged in issues related to National Western.

“Who gets to tap into these funds to represent GES? Who is taking care of this sum of money? Who gets to decide that?,” they said as part of their statement in response. “It’s important that the funding is not controlled by one of the ‘signing’ partners on a potential agreement (including the City and the Authority). Another party should be involved to truly distribute the funds to meet the technical assistance the community needs.”

The Coalition has been advocating for alternative plans for the “triangle,” an area on the edge of National Western.

Shortly before ballots were mailed they also announced their formal opposition to the 2E campaign.

“The lack of process the City of Denver and National Western Authority have blundered in the GES Communities is not in line with equitable development, nor equitable recovery,” they said in their October 6 statement.  “We know as community members working together collectively on a vision at the Triangle, that this is not the right time to fund an arena at the NWC and that it could, in fact, further involuntary displacement, reinforce outdated plans that do not include housing or community businesses, create cost burdens on the City of Denver, and catalyze ongoing extractive development practices that harm the most vulnerable in our City.”

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