The Federal & Mississippi Retail Center in west Denver is a cultural epicenter for the Vietnamese-American community. The complex was in serious need of renovations and repairs — although funding was difficult to come by. But after pursuing a renewed partnership with the Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA), the retail strip center celebrated the project’s completion this spring.
DURA provided financing for both the exterior and back alley improvements.
As a business leader and president of the Vietnamese American Community of Colorado, which represents the community and the Little Saigon Business District, True Nguyen has worked with DURA to meet the needs of all property owners since renovation projects began.
“The property owners and the Vietnamese-American community are very grateful for the grand vision of the City of Denver to improve and showcase this thriving, ethnically-diverse commercial area,” said Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese American Community of Colorado and owner of Advanced Rx Pharmacy. “It is a proud day when we can celebrate this success and progress as one community.”
DURA supported the project through a $1.5 million matching grant for property owners of the retail strip center. Grant funds were used to assist owners in designing, bidding and constructing the renovations.
“At DURA, when we say, ‘we do hard,’ this project is a prime example,” said Josh Widoff, chairman of the DURA Board of Commissioners. “This was one of the most challenging projects in our history because of the volume of business owners and community members with which to coordinate and gain approvals. But we never gave up, and now have the honor of celebrating with our community partners.”
“We have been working closely with business and community leaders in this area for many years to make this vision a reality,” said Denver City Councilman Paul López, District 3. “We have great respect for the culture represented by the people who live and work here and are thrilled to bring it to life.”
The community celebrated the grand re-opening with the singing the national anthems of both the United States and Vietnam and with a cultural dragon dance.
The Denver Urban Renewal Authority works to make Denver stronger by assisting with thoughtful redevelopment. DURA partners with communities and city agencies when redevelopment or revitalization needs to happen, leading a process that brings together neighborhoods and the city as a whole. DURA also offers zero- and low-interest loans to homeowners for emergency repairs and other rehabilitation that will make their homes more safe and comfortable, even making grants to renters and homeowners for accessibility upgrades to their home.