Establishing East Colfax as Denver’s Multicultural Destination

-Fax Partnership on a mission in Colorado

The vibrant culture that can be seen today at East Colfax didn’t happen overnight. The rich history of the town, the multitude of family-owned businesses and the diversity of its residents are shaping it up to be a future international destination in Denver – a place where you can purchase the rarest Asian spices, enjoy traditional Ethiopian delicacies, buy freshly roasted coffee beans and sample homemade Salvadoran pupusas. The Fax Partnership, a long-standing non-profit organization supporting the East Colfax community, is helping businesses and residents claim all that is special about the East Colfax corridor and preserve their culture.

Since 2004, The Fax has been dedicated to providing support services to maintain a healthy mix of affordable and engaging places for people to live, work and enjoy life, through community partnerships and collaboration with the local government. The Fax is divided into two main areas of focus – support services through our Business Support Office (BSO) and Residential Support Office (RSO) and equitable development work.

The BSO is dedicated to helping small businesses along the East Colfax corridor thrive. It also provides multilingual (eight languages represented in-house) technical assistance and training so businesses can improve and expand their customer base. Spanish, Amharic, French, Oromo, Arabic, Swahili amongst others are some of the languages the BSO offers assistance in. This includes providing assistance in applying for grants and loans, promoting small business education and operational improvements, and conducting safety training in partnership with the Denver Police Department.

The BSO in 2021 helped over 126 small businesses obtain loans and grants worth over $400,000, while also conducting numerous town hall meets and events on topics related to business grant programs, safety, and capital products.

East Colfax businesses, Denver Police and Fax staff at recent International District breakfast on May 4th at 7 Leguas
East Colfax businesses, Denver Police and Fax staff at recent International District breakfast on May 4th at 7 Leguas

The Residential Support Office (RSO) helps local residents with access to services and programs that will help reduce their housing costs, improve their financial well-being, increase access to food and ultimately prevent residents from involuntary displacement from the East Colfax community they call home. 

The Fax’s Equitable Development Office (EDO) strives to ensure community-serving redevelopment occurs on the corridor. This includes engaging in land use planning and public policy, and partnering in land acquisition and development. The Fax worked on the 7900 E. Colfax redevelopment project that will bring 72 units of affordable housing to East Colfax. The EDO is also in partnership with the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) to acquire land on the corridor. One property (10660 E. Colfax Ave., Aurora) was acquired by ULC in October 2021 and The Fax and ULC are currently working to acquire a property in Denver.

The RSO equally organizes informational town halls and events, such as food drives and vaccine events, financial literacy coaching and many more.

To continue to be able to support both residents and businesses, The Fax is leading an effort to establish East Colfax between Monaco Parkway and Yosemite Street as an International District. This International District will celebrate and support the corridor’s diversity of people, businesses, food, arts and events. Similar to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles and South Grand in St. Louis, the East Colfax International District will hopefully create a destination that increases commercial activity, foot traffic and spending and funding for improvements.

The components of an International District can vary by the location, but examples include cohesive signage, design standards for buildings, public art guidelines and other identifying factors. The concept of the East Colfax International District is an idea born of a recommendation from the City and County of Denver’s East Area Plan and is currently engaging businesses, property owners, residents and community leaders in the visioning and implementation phase of the project.

The visioning phase is expected to run from now through the end of 2022.

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