Denver to revitalize Sun Valley by cleaning and redeveloping a toxic 8-acre tank farm into a riverfront park & affordable housing

The Zuni Tank Farm is a prominent, highly-contaminated property that has long blighted Denver, Colorado’s Sun Valley area. It sits near Invesco Field and the South Platte River. Former uses of the site include a scrap metal warehouse, landfill, coal-fired power plant, aboveground storage tanks and detention ponds.

Soil sampling identified the presence of benzo[a]pyrene and other polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Heavy metals, asbestos, lead and other inorganic contaminants have also been found in buildings and storage tanks on the site.

Now, on June 26, 2023, at an event in the newly-opened Thrive Apartments in the Sun Valley neighborhood, Kelly Watkins of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 office joined Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver Housing Authority CEO David Nisivoccia, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Deputy Regional Administrator Erik Amundson; Denver City Council President Jamie Torres, and Sun Valley resident Craig Allen to announce a $1,049,300 Brownfields cleanup grant to the Denver Housing Authority (DHA).

EPA continues to support city and community leaders as they work to revitalize the Sun Valley neighborhood,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “This cleanup grant will address contamination at a critical property along the South Platte River, improving green infrastructure and water quality and providing opportunities for new housing and recreational amenities.

The grant, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will be used to clean up the eight-acre former Zuni Tank Farm at 2514 West 13th Avenue and 2501 West 11th Avenue in Denver.

Communities that previously received Brownfields Grants used these resources to fund assessments and cleanups of brownfields, and successfully leverage an average of 10.6 jobs per $100,000 of grant funds spent and $19.78 for every dollar.

DHA will oversee the redevelopment of the site into new, energy-efficient affordable housing units and a riverfront park expanding the greenway and connecting the neighborhood to the river. The park will feature environmental education, a water-feature play area, cafes, play fields and courts and multi-use trails.

Denver Housing Authority is thrilled to have been selected as an EPA Brownfields Grant recipient,” said Nisivoccia. “Utilizing the grant funds, this site will be cleaned to residential standards and a portion of the land will be converted into a future park that borders the South Platte River. The project property is adjacent to our newest housing developments, GreenHaus and Thrive, which just completed construction, are leasing now and will serve 264 family households, in addition to the 187 families being served by the Gateway Apartments.

As new families move into the Sun Valley community, economic benefits of affordability, new jobs, increased tax revenues and more consumer spending will continue to bring new life to the target area and surrounding businesses.

The City and County of Denver charged DHA with implementing the Sun Valley Neighborhood Transformation Plan. DHA created Sun Valley Zuni, LLC, to assume site ownership and cleanup at the tank farm property.

EPA’s award for the Sun Valley project is among eight Brownfields grants totaling more than $5 million announced this month for cleanup and revitalization projects in communities across Colorado. Other grantees are receiving funds for projects in Brighton, Buena Vista, Pueblo, Silverton, San Luis, San Miguel County and Trinidad.

Thanks to the historic $1.5 billion boost from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA’s Brownfields Program is helping more communities than ever begin to address the economic, social and environmental challenges caused by brownfields and stimulate economic opportunity and environmental revitalization in historically overburdened communities.

EPA’s Brownfields Program also advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative to direct 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 84% of the MARC program applications selected to receive funding proposed to work in areas that include historically underserved communities.

EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $2.37 billion in Brownfield Grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. EPA’s investments in addressing brownfield sites have leveraged more than $36 billion in cleanup and redevelopment.

Photo via Google Maps.

Learn more about Brownfields Grants.

Learn more about EPA’s Brownfields Program.

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