Denver, CO

Denver attractions, homeless shelters benefit from RISE bond

David Heitz
Players present "Oklahoma" at the Denver Center for the Performing ArtsCity and County of Denver

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Four popular Denver attractions may get about $12 million in makeovers thanks to the voter-approved RISE bond.

Voters approved the bond issue in November 2021. The city will invest $104 million in Denver facilities.

Four agreements for improvements appear on the July 5 agenda for the City Council Finance and Governance meeting. Because that meeting was canceled, the committee next meets on July 12. The full City Council also must approve the agreements.

RISE stands for Rebuild an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy. If the agreements are approved, the four Institutions receiving grants this round will include:

· Denver Center for the Performing Arts: $3.1 million. The money will pay for the Bonfils Complex's fire, safety and accessibility improvements. That includes sprinkler installation and upgrades to Jones Theater. The improvements are part of a grander $57 million makeover, with $31.1 million coming from Denver's Better Denver, Elevate Denver and RISE bonds. Investments also came from the Bonfils Foundation and $17 million from the "A Grander Opening" capital campaign for DCPA completed in May 2022.

· Denver Botanic Gardens: $3 million. The money will go toward roof repairs and improvements to accessibility and waterways for water conservation and sustainability in the gardens.

· Denver Museum of Nature and Science: $3 million. The money will pay for deferred maintenance, including asbestos removal, repair, and replacement of HVAC equipment, updating safety systems, and expanding emergency lighting systems.

· Denver Zoological Foundation: $3 million. The money will pay for accessibility improvements and pathway lighting throughout the campus.

According to the RISE website, the projects will create more than 1,800 jobs, $116 million in wages, and more than $250 million in economic impact. The projects will support small businesses before and after construction, according to the website, including opportunities for entrepreneurs at the May Bonfils Stanton theater after renovation.

First round of grants funded shelters

Earlier this spring, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced $38.6 million in RISE investments in shelters for people experiencing homelessness. "The people of Denver said, when it comes to our recovery and the city we want to be after the pandemic, this is the type of investment we want to see – investments that will have a multi-generational impact," Hancock said in a news release.

RISE Denver will invest in more than 80 community improvements, including those at the Volunteers of America Family Motel, new construction at the Urban Peak youth shelter and the purchase of the 48th Avenue shelter. "The city currently leases the facility, but by bringing it under city control, Denver can ensure that the shelter remains a robust, 24/7 refuge for people experiencing homelessness," the city explains on the ballot question website. The bond issue also will fund the acquisition of 300 hotel/motel rooms for people experiencing homelessness.

VOA Family Motel serves veterans, families

The VOA Family Motel served 1,481 families, veterans, and respite care guests from March 2020 to March 2021, according to the news release.

"For decades, the VOA Family Motel has served as a welcoming space for families experiencing homelessness and for unhoused residents who are recovering from illness or medical procedures, and this bond funded project is going to allow them to improve their facility and support their larger project to transition people to more stable housing all on one site," Chief Housing Officer Britta Fisher said.

Hancock said the bond fuels economic recovery while "Lifting people up with thoughtful social infrastructure that can make all the difference in a family's life and help set a new trajectory." The shelter projects will create more than 400 jobs, $26 million in wages and an economic impact of $60 million.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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