Coali­tion sues fed­eral agency over land sale

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Kirk Mitchell Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206, kmitchell@den­ver­ or @kirk­mitchell or den­ver­­cases

The Colorado Coali­tion for the Home­less has sued the U.S. Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment to stop an auc­tion of 59 acres at Den­ver Fed­eral Cen­ter claim­ing the de­ci­sion to do so may vi­o­late the Home­less As­sis­tance Act.

The civil law­suit, filed Tues­day in U.S. District Court in Den­ver by John Par­ven­sky, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Colorado Coali­tion for the Home­less, also names the U.S. Gen­eral Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion as a de­fen­dant.

The non­profit home­less ad­vo­cacy group wants the judge to stop HUD from sell­ing sur­plus prop­erty un­til the Colorado Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health and En­vi­ron­ment can de­ter­mine there are no de­vel­op­ment re­stric­tions on the prop­erty.

GSA prop­erty dis­posal man­ager Wil­liam Mor­gan has said that the va­cant land near the West Rail Line Fed­eral Cen­ter sta­tion near West Sixth Av­enue and Simms Street could be de­vel­oped for res­i­den­tial and re­tail uses.

But the de­ci­sion to sell the prop­erty came af­ter HUD of­fi­cials de­ter­mined that the prop­erty was un­suit­able for home­less ser­vices and hous­ing be­cause a for­mer landfill on the prop­erty con­tam­i­nated 15 acres with high con­cen­tra­tions of poly­cyclic aro­matic hy­dro­car­bons, me­tals, dioxin/fu­rans, pes­ti­cides and as­bestos that are a threat to phys­i­cal safety, the law­suit says.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials had re­ported that the con­tam­i­nated por­tion of the land had been capped in a way that met en­vi­ron­men­tal re­quire­ments, the law­suit says. And in May, Mor­gan was quoted in The Den­ver Post say­ing that the prop­erty could be used for hous­ing.

Home­less coali­tion of­fi­cials never re­ceived a re­ply from fed­eral of­fi­cials af­ter they asked them to con­sider us­ing the prop­erty for home­less ser­vices, the law­suit says.

CDPHE project man­ager David Walker also re­ported that even the por­tion of the 59 acres en­com­pass­ing the prior landfill was suit­able for de­vel­op­ment, the law­suit says.

“One thing to note is that there is no re­stric­tion on the type of de­vel­op­ment that may oc­cur in the north­west cor­ner sale area prop­erty in gen­eral, or the NW cor­ner landfill cover prop­erty in par­tic­u­lar,” Walker re­ported.

On Fri­day, the coali­tion for­mally asked HUD to re­con­sider its de­ter­mi­na­tion the prop­erty was un­suit­able for the home­less. The non­profit’s law­suit points out that it has con­structed 220 apart­ments on the for­mer Lowry Air Force Base in Den­ver, a for­mer Depart­ment of De­fense site.

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