Center for African American Health buys Denver building for $4.7 million
Denver, Colorado, July 1, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The Center for African American Health (CAA Health) purchased $4.7 million freestanding building that’s $4.9 million in value. CAA Health’s new two-story home is at 3350 Hudson Street, Northeast Park Hill, Denver. “The Holly” is a blessing to the organization and community it serves. The masterful execution of a two-year capital campaign and the support of generous donors allowed CAA Health to raise over $2 million for the purchase. The building formally opened on August 1.
How it happened: After it burned to the ground in 2008, the redevelopment of The Holly (Square Shopping Center) marked a significant change for the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood. ULC acquired the 2.6-acre property in 2009 with support from the City of Denver and immediately embarked on a comprehensive process of community engagement. The Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP) and the Denver Foundation’s Strengthening Neighborhoods Program participated. The result was a community hub that included the Boys & Girls Club and the Roots Elementary School.
Key Players Had to Team Up: When the Roots School (Hudson Building) closed in 2019, ULC teamed up again with HARP to collect Requests for Statements of Interest (RFSIs) to select a new nonprofit. It had to comply with HARP’s Guiding Principles for the Neighborhood to buy and operate outside of the building.
The ability to bring community voices to the process of selecting the next building owner was made possible by the fact that these Guiding Neighborhood Principles were incorporated into ULC’s long lease with Roots. This then led the negotiations between ULC and the mortgage lender for the building respecting the community’s desire to move away from another charter school. HARP and the surrounding community selected the Center for African American Health (CAA Health) because of their longstanding commitment to Northeast Denver and their focus on the African American community.
The Vision for a African American Health Building Evolves
“Without the ULC Community Land Trust and our ability to purchase the Hudson Building, we would not have been able to go back to the community to determine which community services would be most beneficial in that location,” says Erin Clark, VP of Masters. at ULC website development. “Additionally, ULC went to great lengths to ensure the building remained a commons by working with lenders and purchasing the building to give CAA Health time to raise the capital required to purchase it. This is a story of partnership, creativity, commitment to community needs, and the importance of community land trusts in achieving those goals. “
“It was heartwarming that HARP selected us as the next occupant of the building, and it speaks volumes for the 24 years we have served the community,” said Deidre Johnson, CEO and Executive Director of CAA Health. “We are grateful for ULC’s partnership in enabling us to sign an option-to-purchase lease in 2020, and we appreciate the funding we have received from multiple foundations and individuals. When I first came to CAA Health, I remember Grant Jones [the organization’s founder and former Executive Director] share with me the desire to buy our own building at some point. Our determination, coupled with favorable circumstances and the right timing, gave us the means to buy our new home. “
Founded in 1997, CAA Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of African Americans who are more likely to suffer from illness, disability, and premature death from diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In addition to health care, the organization advocates equal health opportunities and deals with the social determinants of health. Accordingly, it was important for CAA Health to have a tangible presence in the community it serves. The building is a symbol of the strength of the African American community – it conveys a sense of pride along with the security of property.
A Permanent Home for Sustainable Programs is Paramount
“The question of sustainability is a constant for most, if not all, community-based organizations. It is particularly present for nonprofits whose core missions are designed to address challenging and longstanding … health and wellness issues,” said Grant Jones, Founder and Former Executive Director. “I was so happy [when CAA] tackled one of its major sustainability challenges: finding a permanent home and becoming an owner, not a tenant.”
Toni Baruti, Chairman of the CAA Health Committee, notes the strong support from the advocates and adds: “This is what ‘it takes a village’ looks like. We called on the community, and the community showed up and did their best. We are grateful to our donors and supporters who support our work for health equality for the Black / African American community.”
CAA Health, like many nonprofits over the past year, has quickly migrated its programs and services to virtual platforms due to the pandemic. The public relations work responded to the immediate needs of the community and the organization promoted innovative solutions. In 2020, CAA Health provided COVID-19 testing, ran voter registration events and flu vaccination clinics. They also distributed personal protective equipment (PPE) and groceries from the 3350 parking lot on Hudson Street.
“CAA Health is a ‘community treasure’ with an obligation to serve the African American population. As an individual and a board member, I am so proud of this amazing achievement, which was a combined effort by the board, employees and community partners,” said Gerie Grimes, immediate past chairman and current board member.
About the Center for African American Health
The Center for African American Health (CAA Health) mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of African American people who are more likely to suffer from illness, disability, and premature death from diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. CAA Health was founded in 1997 and relaunched in 2005.
CAA Health grew out of the Metro Denver Black Church Initiative’s health program, to create health programs across the African American community. For over a decade its programs addressed youth at risk, academically difficult students, and returnees. Since 2005, CAA Health has offered prevention and disease management programs with a focus on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and senior wellness programs. They also offer health insurance literacy and a variety of health education topics and community resource references. For more information on CAA Health, see www.caahealth.org.
This story comes via Urban Land Conservancy: ULC is committed to the maintenance, development, management and administration of affordable permanent housing and shared office space for nonprofit and missionary organizations in Metro Denver and the surrounding communities. For more information, visit www.urbanlandc.org
CONTACT: Gerri Gomez Howard The Center for African American Health 303-748-3933 firstname.lastname@example.org