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The new food incubator will debut at 2500 W 10th Ave Denver, CO 80204 in the fall of 2024 at the earliest, according to Keo Frazier, Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Denver Housing Authority.
For quite some time, Sun Valley has been recognized as one of Denver’s lowest-income neighborhoods. Due to its “disconnected street grid” made up of “Colfax Avenue and the Broncos Stadium on the north, Federal Boulevard on the west, 6th Avenue and the light industrial district on the south, and the South Platte River on the east,” Sun Valley’s residents have been isolated from “economic opportunity and area amenities.”
However, in 2016 DHA was awarded “a $30 million Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI) Implementation Grant from HUD for the Sun Valley Eco District (SVED) and DHA to implement the Sun Valley Neighborhood Transformation Plan.” The redevelopment process will “create over 800 mixed-income units in four phases.”
Current construction has proved inconvenient to vulnerable residents who have been displaced, but hopes are that the resulting improvements and opportunity-driven additions will eventually outshine prior vexations. In early June, Denverite reported, “Nearby residents and community leaders have had mixed feelings over the redevelopment because of the displacement but they’ve expressed hopes that residents will be able to return to the new buildings.”
That said, What Now Denver spoke with Keo Frazier of the DHA to get a better idea of what an addition like the food incubator will eventually provide the community:
WND: What purpose + function will the food incubator serve?
Frazier: The Denver Housing Authority (DHA) is committed to providing opportunities for residents and community members to grow and flourish within both the food and small business industries. Located along 10th Avenue between the Grow Garden and the Decatur Fresh Marketplace, the Food and Business Incubator will be the capstone Critical Community Investment (CCI) project in the Sun Valley Neighborhood.
The incubator will provide opportunities for restaurant and business training on a smaller scale, giving low-income families an opportunity to gain the necessary experience in restaurant operations. DHA will provide educational and start-up services to local food entrepreneurs, bridging the gap between the dream phase and launch phase of a resident’s business plan. Food entrepreneurs will be sought from the Sun Valley Neighborhood, however, [the space] will be open to other residents in West Denver seeking start-up support. Participants will be able to utilize the subsidized kiosk space for approximately one year, where they will engage with staff and begin taking the necessary steps in business plan development, licensing, and leasing to operate their own space outside of the incubator. Business models could include brick and mortar restaurants, food trucks, catering, or wholesale production.
WND: Who will manage/oversee the food incubator?
Frazier: The Denver Housing Authority will be the master lease holder of the Incubator Space. DHA’s Resident and Community Connections Director will oversee the operations of the Incubator and will employ one-full time general manager to support leasing, scheduling, and front-of-house operations and one full-time marketing and events planner.
DHA will partner with the Youth Employment Academy (YEA), a 501c3 non-profit focused on breaking the cycle of generational poverty through education and employment training. YEA will bring 10 years of experience in restaurant operations and culinary education and will employ one full-time chef to run back-of-house operations and two contracting teaching staff for education and business support services. The space will function both as a training space for local food entrepreneurs and a neighborhood destination and gathering place along the South Platte River.
WND: What are the DHA’s hopes for the food incubator?
Frazier: To support local food entrepreneurs and preserve the multi-national culture and social cohesion of Sun Valley through the provision of low-cost space and business support services.
WND: How will the food incubator serve the community and redevelopment?
• Provide a low-risk space for first-time food entrepreneurs to launch and grow their food businesses.
• Offer healthy, culturally grounded restaurant options to Sun Valley residents.
• Create an educational platform in restaurant operations, including both back-of-house support and business support services.
• Provide affordable commissary kitchen space to support West Denver businesses
• Become a cultural destination that celebrates and preserves Sun Valley’s diversity and unique fabric.