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Taylor Kohrs completes Emerson Flats low-income project in Capitol Hill

The resident units, ground-floor amenity spaces, and front door are oriented to the street. Courtesy Ron Pollard

Taylor Kohrs recently completed construction of the new Emerson Flats, a low-income housing tax credit project in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. This $6.6 million wood-frame building is 26,022 square feet in five stories, including 21 units with a combination of one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans with secure parking. It was developed by Del Norte Neighborhood Development Corp. and designed by Studio 646 Architecture.

Residents were relocated and Del Norte demolished the existing Emerson Street Apartments in order to provide a new modern home for its residents.

“Emerson Flats was a zero-lot line project in a busy neighborhood, and next to a school building,” said Taylor Kohrs’ TJ Cavarra, project manager for Emerson Flats. “We strategically planned deliveries to avoid school pickup and drop-off times, and communicated our construction plans frequently with neighbors. Earlier this year, we also created and immediately implemented an onsite COVID-19 job site safety plan to allow work to continue at a safe pace.”

The Emerson Flats site is in an architecturally rich and historic neighborhood of the city of Denver, according to Studio 646 Architecture’s Principal Eric Blase, AIA, LEED AP.

“Our primary goal was to design a building that appears to fit within that rich neighborhood fabric, while at the same time provide a building that meets the specific needs of the residents,” Blase said. “We were able to accomplish this through the use of exterior materials which are prevalent in the surrounding neighboring buildings. We also planned the building mass, height and articulation to be sensitive to the surrounding structures.” The resident units, ground-floor amenity spaces, and front door are oriented to the street, which contributes to the building being a good neighbor, he said.

This family friendly project includes full kitchens with pantries in each unit, Energy Star appliances with dishwashers and microwaves, dining areas and ample storage. Family style on-site amenities include a large laundry room, as well as a community room with kitchen and a secured bike/stroller area.

When asked how designing for LIHTC projects differs from market-rate projects, Blase said, “The building is specifically designed for residents with families to care for. With the site being in close proximity to an elementary school, parks and public transportation, this was an ideal location for family style units.” Therefore, the building was designed with large residential units, a large community room, and potential for a rooftop garden, he said. “The building does not have unnecessary amenity space, which are often used to draw renters, but is efficient in its design, with a focus on family living.”

As for his favorite part of the design, “I love the warm wood façade on the face of the building,” Blase said. “The warmth of the wood complements the cement plaster surround and masonry, but also provides a great street presence. Our building developer was focused on making the resident units livable for families, and functional. The units have great kitchens, plenty of storage space, and living spaces with amazing views of downtown Denver. I believe the residents will love those aspects of the building.”

Published in the Aug. 19-Sept. 1, 2020 issue of CREJ.

Kris Oppermann Stern is publisher and editor of Building Dialogue, a Colorado Real Estate Journal publication, and editor of CREJ's construction, design, and engineering section, including news and bylined articles. Building Dialogue is a quarterly, four-color magazine that caters specifically to the AEC industry, including features on projects and people, as well as covering trends…