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Denver homeowners caught in affordable housing quagmire now finding insurance claim denials in their mailboxes

Neil O’Toole poses for a portrait at his home in Green Valley Ranch on March 5, 2018. O’Toole bought his Green Valley Ranch home in 2016, not realizing it was part of the city’s affordable housing program. He paid more than he should have and he wasn’t income qualified. Now he may be forced to move, while also taking a loss on the home.

Title companies who insured Denver homebuyers when they bought income-restricted housing they weren’t qualified to own are now telling those people they are on their own in dealing with the fallout.

As claim denial letters land in local mailboxes, Denver officials are doubling down on calls for the industry to change the way it addresses affordable housing programs. The city insists compliance with rules should be part of title policy requirements, not exceptions from coverage.

Judging by the response from the Land Title Association of Colorado this week, change isn’t going to happen soon, if it happens at all.

In a pair of letters provided to The Denver Post this week, Fidelity National Title Insurance Company and Chicago Title Insurance Company denied recent insurance claims from Denver homeowners caught up in the controversy that has swept over the city’s affordable housing program. The owners, who the letters indicated were not aware of the restrictions on their home, make too much money to own their homes under city rules and are now being pressed to sell to people who qualify. They contacted their insurers seeking payouts to cover the difference between the market price of their home and the lower maximum resale price put in place by city rules.

The denial letters identify declarations of affordability applied to Denver’s Green Valley Ranch neighborhood as specific coverage exceptions to the homeowners’ title policies. The letters also state that title companies “had no obligation to disclose the existence of the Affordability Restrictions” to buyers at the time of purchase, per Colorado case law.

The homeowners who filed the claims could not be identified because their personal information had been redacted prior the letters being obtained by the Post.

Fidelity National Title Insurance Company and Chicago Title Insurance Company both belong to the Fidelity National Title Group family of companies. Multiple calls to Fidelity seeking comment were not returned this week.

The letters lay out in micro a broader industry position city officials have been complaining about since they discovered earlier this year that 194 of the city’s roughly 1,300 income-restricted homes had been sold to new buyers with no record of meeting affordability requirements. The city says that the title insurance companies are putting homebuyers at risk by not disclosing these requirements.

“If you are looking at this problem from a consumer-friendly standpoint, we believe the industry needs to reconsider its position and should be listing (affordability restrictions) in the requirements and should have been listing them in the requirements in the first place,” City Attorney Kristin Bronson said this week.

The city first raised this issue with the Land Title Association of Colorado, the industry’s local trade group, in a letter from Mayor Michael Hancock on March 30.

“The failure of the title companies to perform due diligence has put the city’s affordable housing stock at risk by taking homes away from those who are income-qualified; and my greater concern is that Denver residents who relied on the title companies to provide them assurance of good title to their homes did not in fact obtain good title,” Hancock wrote in that letter.

LTAC responded via a letter of its own in April. That letter classified the city’s affordability rules as “covenants, conditions and restrictions,” comparing it to rules imposed by homeowners associations. Those associations can dictate uses of a property, such as what color an owner can paint their house.

In the Denver program’s case, it can mandate occupancy by income-qualified people and cap maximum resale value. It’s the position of LTAC those rules have no bearing on the strength of a proposed home loan or a lender’s ability to protect its position on the property.

“These types of documents, as a result, are not included in the requirements section, as there is no action that can be taken to remove their effect on the property,” LTAC president Kelli Klein wrote in the letter. “Rather, they are listed as an exception to title.”

Denver’s Bronson disagrees. As she outlined at a recent meeting of the state’s title insurance commission, the city’s covenant language has varied some since the affordable home ownership program was launched in the early 2000s, but “pretty much all of them contain language that makes the transactions voidable from the outset if you are selling out of compliance” with affordability rules.

“That presents great risk to the lenders because they are lending on what they believe is solid ownership,” Bronson added.

When contacted for further comment this week, a spokesman for LTAC said the association stands by its April letter. Klein, in an interview with The Denver Post earlier this spring, said title companies are barred from providing legal advice about housing covenants at closing and from interfering with sales contracts.

For some, the battle over who should be responsible for informing buyers about affordability rules exposes flaws in the city’s long-time approach. When its once-active oversight of the program dwindled during and after the Great Recession, the city began to rely more heavily on market levers like title insurance to keep the program running smoothly. What it ended up with was more than a quarter of the homes in its portfolio falling out of compliance.

Boulder real estate lawyer Jon Goodman likened it to speed limits. Simply setting them and expecting people to obey doesn’t cut it. Signs and policing are needed.

“Buyers think that the title company won’t close the deal unless the seller can convey ‘clean’ title, but the title company doesn’t need to do more than list the title flaws as exceptions to the insurance,” Goodman wrote in an email this week. “The fiction is that buyers study and understand the title commitment or hire a lawyer. Yet everyone, including the city, knows that’s a myth.”

Bronson emphasized not all title companies are denying claims related to affordable restrictions. She has heard of instances of insurers covering price differences for people selling their affordable homes at depressed rates and moving to market-rate residences. Still, the city officials said LTAC and the state advisory committee should make a best-practices recommendation that such restrictions be treated as policy requirements so similar situations don’t occur in the future. It’s not just Denver’s affordable housing stock that’s at stake.

“We believe this is a statewide concern,” Bronson said. “We are incredibly dissatisfied with the position taken by the industry here. This is not a consumer-friendly approach.”

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Infamous Colorado Springs landlord sells last apartments

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Seven apartment complexes that were owned by a Colorado Springs landlord we’ve reported on in the past were sold Thursday to a Denver-based realty firm.

Todd Ragan represented the selling side in the deal with Nexus Commercial Realty, LLC, who represented the buyer, Slipstream Properties of Denver.

The Ragans have been the subjects of multiple Target 13 investigations into their practices. Multiple tenants had filed complaints against them at numerous complexes across the city over the past few years. One report last year found that Terry Ragan was responsible for 80 percent of the city’s code violations.

RELATED STORIES:
Victims living with intense mold, landlord refuses to respond
Complex owner under fire after complaints of discrimination
Former tenant claims landlord harasses residents.

Ragan had been selling off his multi-family properties, and Thursday’s deal represented the last of the buildings owned by the Ragans.

"We have been looking for good value-add opportunities in the Springs," said a representative from Slipstream.

The following complexes were sold as part of Thursday’s announcement:

Pine Creek Village Apartments – 312 units Shannon Glen Apartments – 192 units Cedar Creek Club Apartments – 175 units El Vecino Apartments – 174 units South Pointe Apartments – 162 units Timbers Apartments – 84 units New Horizons Apartments – 79 units

The properties were sold for a total of approximately $102 million.

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Colorado girl seriously injured in bear attack outside home

387017 03: Two black bears face off March 22, 2001 at the Denver Zoo in Denver, CO. (Photo by Michael Smith/Newsmakers)

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) – A 5-year-old Colorado girl is hospitalized with serious injuries after she was attacked by a bear outside her home.

The attack happened early Sunday near Grand Junction, about 240 miles (386 kilometers) west of Denver.

The girl’s mother told state wildlife officers that her daughter went outside around 2:30 a.m. to investigate noises she thought might be related to her dog. The mother said she then heard screaming and went out to find her daughter being dragged by a large black bear. She says the bear dropped the girl after she began screaming at the animal.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife says officers are tracking the bear with the help of federal wildlife officers.

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Dummy Post New homes for under $300,000 disappearing from metro Denver

Just 1 percent of the homes started in metro Denver in the first quarter were priced below $300,000, down from 3 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to Metrostudy, which tracks new home construction in the region and other big cities. The numbers include new single-family homes, town homes and condominiums.

And it isn’t because construction is taking a breather. Builders are ramping up this year, with new home starts 14 percent higher in the first quarter than they were a year earlier. That marks the second consecutive quarter of double-digit gains, according to Metrostudy.

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Going, going, almost gone. New homes for under $300,000 disappearing from metro Denver

Denver Post file Home for sale in Denver.

The days of buying a home in the Denver metro area for under $300,000 are all but gone.

Just 1 percent of the homes started in metro Denver in the first quarter were priced below $300,000, down from 3 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to Metrostudy, which tracks new home construction in the region and other big cities. The numbers include new single-family homes, town homes and condominiums.

And it isn’t because construction is taking a breather. Builders are ramping up this year, with new home starts 14 percent higher in the first quarter than they were a year earlier. That marks the second consecutive quarter of double-digit gains, according to Metrostudy.

At an annualized rate, home starts are running above 12,000 for the first time since 2007. But much of what is being built skews above the half-million-dollar mark. Starts on homes priced below $299,999, already low, have dropped by two-thirds the past year.

Only 22 percent of the new homes started in the first three months of this year were priced below $400,000, even after a big jump in the construction of townhomes, which usually cost less to build than a comparable single-family home. Just two years ago, homes priced below $400,000 accounted for 40 percent of starts.

“Many prospective entry-level new home buyers are now priced out of the market, and those that can afford to buy are either moving further out into the periphery, or into more affordably priced attached product, which explains, in part, why townhome product is growing so quickly,” said John Covert, the study’s author, in the report.

To qualify for a 30-year mortgage on a $400,000 home, assuming a 20 percent down payment, a household would need to earn around $85,500, according to Mortgagecalculator.com.

The median househould income in metro Denver is $73,271.

Builders were most active during the first quarter starting homes priced from $500,000 to $599,999. Those represented 22 percent of all starts in the first quarter in metro Denver, up from 18 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Homes priced in the $600,000 range also saw a big jump, going from 5 percent of starts to 9 percent.

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Death and Co, award-winning New York City cocktail bar, opening Denver location

DENVER — One of New York’s trendiest bars will open a Denver location in a few weeks. It will be the cocktail bar’s second location in the world.

Death and Co. will open to the public on May 1, according to the bars’ Instagram page. It will will be part of the new Ramble Hotel located at 25th and Larimer streets in RiNo.

RiNo’s most anticipated hotel will open its doors May 1, and we’re offering one lucky winner and a guest a two-night stay to experience everything within our doors, including:⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Transportation to and from @denairport, or complimentary valet parking⠀ A two-night stay at @theramblehotel, with breakfast each morning⠀ An exclusive cocktail experience for two with @deathandcompany⠀ Dinner for two at @supermegabiendenver⠀ ⠀ ⠀ To enter, follow our account, ‘like’ this post, tag the friend you’d want to ramble with in Denver, and head to @theramblehotel to complete the same steps by 11:59 p.m. on April 23. The winner will be selected at random and announced via this post on April 27.⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Contest rules: Must be 21 or older and reside in the U.S. to participate. Dates of visit are subject to availability, and some blackout dates apply. Contest does not include airfare.⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ This contest is in no way sponsored, administered or endorsed by, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm they are 21+ years of age, release Instagram and all brands and participants of all responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s terms of use. No purchase necessary.

A post shared by Death & Co. (@deathandcompany) on Apr 16, 2018 at 8:01am PDT

Death & Co has been named the Best American Cocktail Bar and called New York City’s Most Influential Cocktail Bar by Thrillist.

Plans for the new bar and hotel were announced in August 2016.

The cocktail bar will be the first thing you see when you walk into the 50-room boutique hotel. The bar has been open in Manhattan’s East Village for 11 years.

The Ramble was developed by a local firm who wanted to keep the industrial feel of the neighborhood with elegance on the inside.

They told FOX31 and Channel 2 in February that they hope it will become a spot for locals and not just tourists.

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Jeep stolen during armed carjacking in Denver

DENVER — A dark gray Jeep Compass was stolen during an armed carjacking on Tuesday morning, the Denver Police Department said.

The incident happened at the Denver Denzien apartments in the 400 block of South Cherokee Street near the Alameda RTD light rail station about 9 a.m.

Police said the Jeep was taken by a white male suspect in his 40s. No other description was released.

The Jeep has a Colorado license plate of DDO-486.

It’s not known if there were any injuries.

Anyone who sees the vehicle is asked to call 911.

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In the Pipeline: Ascent Living to Open in Denver, CA Senior Living Breaks Ground Near Pittsburgh

In the Pipeline is brought to you by the Senior Housing News Architecture & Design Awards. Sign up for the SHN Architecture & Design Newsletter from SHN for updates on architecture and design trends, the annual SHN Awards Competition.

Construction: Planned

Focus Property Group, Ascent Living Planning Denver Community

Property investor and developer Focus Property Group and senior living owner and operator Ascent Living Communities are teaming up to open a senior living community in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood.

The property, which is yet to be named, will have more than 200 independent living, assisted living and memory care apartments on three levels. Planned amenities include a fitness and yoga center, an aquatics center and multiple restaurant options, such as a bistro and al fresco dining.

The architecture of the forthcoming community is inspired by the design of nearby neighborhoods and the urban lifestyles of the residents. The three floors of residences will be organized around three internal courtyards, and many of the apartments will come with fireplaces, balconies, and glass walls overlooking mountain views.

Focus Property Group acquired the site, a former milk processing and distribution center, in 2016. Ascent Living Communities is co-developing, operating and managing the community. Construction is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2019, with initial move-ins planned for summer 2020.

Hord Coplan Macht is designing the project, studioSIX5 has been tapped for the interior design, and Catamount Constructors is the general contractor.

Oxford Senior Living to Expand Communities in Texas, Oklahoma

Oxford Senior Living plans to expand two of its communities located in Grand Prairie, Texas; and in Owasso, Oklahoma.

The senior living provider is set to break ground later this year on a $5 million expansion at its Oxford Glen Memory Care community in Texas. In Oklahoma, work is expected to begin this summer.

Plans for the Tulsa and Grand Prairie expansions are very similar, according to Oxford. Each community will add about 30,000 square feet and up to 40 assisted living apartments, plus a secure courtyard and additional amenities.

LK Architecture is the architect for both projects.

Construction: In progress

CA Senior Living Breaks Ground on Community Near Pittsburgh

CA Senior Living, the senior housing investment and development division of Chicago-based CA Ventures, has started work for a new senior living community in McCandless, Pennsylvania.

The project, Atria McCandless, is a 179-unit independent living, assisted living and memory care community slated to be operated by Atria Senior Living. Amenities include a pool and spa, fitness center, salon, multiple dining venues, activity rooms, an outdoor walking path and a patio with plenty of seating and a bar.

Independent and assisted living apartments will have stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops and tile backsplashes. Most will also offer in-unit laundry, and floor plans include studio, one- and two-bedroom options ranging in size from 410 to 1,052 square feet.

Pre-leasing for the community is scheduled to begin in October 2018, with an anticipated fall 2019 opening.

Abby Development Starts Work for Arkansas Community

Abby Development, a developer, owner and operator of senior housing communities, has broken ground on Ridgemere, a 92-unit luxury independent living, assisted living and memory care campus in Conway, Arkansas.

The “resort-style” community will have amenities such as a stocked fishing lake with walking trails, multiple landscaped courtyards with water features, a movie theater, pharmacy and general store, beauty salons, libraries and rehabilitation center.

The community’s independent living cottages will have a mix of two- and three-bedroom floorplans, with an average size of 1,485 square feet. On the assisted living side, residents will be able to choose from studio, one- and two-bedroom floorplans. The memory care wing will have private and semi-private studio floorplans in a secure building.

Work Underway for Expanded PACE Center in Michigan

United Methodist Retirement Communities (UMRC) recently held a groundbreaking event for a new addition to double the size and capacity of the existing Huron Valley PACE Day Health Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

PACE, which stands for Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, is an alternative to nursing home care designed to meet the social, medical, and supportive needs of low-income adults 55 and older. The project is made possible, in part, by a $1 million capital grant from Maryland-based funder, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Construction: Complete

New in the resource center

Buckner Community in Texas Completes $29.8 Million Expansion and Renovation Project

Buckner Villas, a faith-based Buckner Retirement Services community in North Austin, Texas, recently completed a $29.8 million expansion and renovation project.

The expansion added 69 one- and two-bedroom apartment homes to its GreenRidge independent living area, as well as 70 underground parking spaces. Workers also enlarged the dining room, extended the bistro, added a theater, broadened the salon and spa, built a larger meeting space and updated the interior design throughout.

The community can now serve up to 138 additional seniors, Bucker announced. The project included work from Hill and Wilkinson, Barbara J. Vessels Interiors and D2 Architecture.

LifeSpire CCRC Set to Open New Dining Venues in April

The Chesapeake, a LifeSpire of Virginia continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Newport News, Virginia, is slated to open newly updated dining venues with cook-to- order options and new menu offerings on April 9.

The new options will let residents choose from a number of dining venues, including an updated formal dining room, a bistro, a pub and a cafe.

This is the first phase of a $10 million renovation project. THW Design and contractor GC Construction, worked with The Chesapeake on the renovations, which began last September.

Other noteworthy projects:

Planned

— Purchase College is seeking to open a new senior living project with 339 units and 46 villas on its campus in Purchase, New York.

— Oaks Senior Living and Lotus Park Senior Living are teaming up for a new assisted living and memory care development in Aiken, South Carolina.

— A 101-bed assisted living and memory care community is in the works in Macomb Township, Michigan.

— Great Falls, Virginia, could get a new 62-unit assisted living and memory care community.

—Sugar Loaf Senior Living has announced it intends to build a 70-unit property next to one of its communities in Winona County, Minnesota.

— A former “spy house” in Washington, D.C., could be demolished to make way for a new CCRC.

— Fortress Ventures is constructing a $31 million community with 140 assisted living, independent living and memory care units in Fort Myers, Florida.

— An elementary school building in Hager City, Wisconsin, could become a senior living community with 16 units.

— Local officials in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, have given their blessing to plans for a 42-unit senior living project.

In progress

— Tradition Senior Living has broken ground for a new 23-story senior living highrise in Houston.

— A new assisted living and memory care community is set to open in Bossier City, Louisiana, this summer.

— Work is expected to begin in April for a new assisted living and memory care community in Swift County, Minnesota.

Complete

— A new 74-unit senior apartment community has opened in Vineland, New Jersey.

Written by Tim Regan

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Yes, There’s A Denver Fashion Scene. Fashion Week Is Here To Flaunt It On The Runway

Denver fashion designer Duane Topping at his Wheat Ridge workspace, March 8, 2018. Topping, who runs Toppings Designs with his wife, took up sewing and fashion design after he retired from the U.S. Army in 2012.

Denver Fashion Weekend started 10 years ago as what 303 Magazine editor-in-chief Brittany Werges called “a crazy, creative avant-garde hair show.” Those early fashion weekends weren’t all that inauspicious when you take into account the Mile High City’s old reputation.

“For a long time, I think people really thought of Denver as just a yoga pants town,” Werges says. “But there are a lot of creatives here creating really beautiful clothes… We’ve had a lot of great sold-out shows, and we felt the city was really ready to embrace it.”

This year marks the first time ever the event stretches to a week long. Say goodbye to fashion weekend and say hello to the new Denver Fashion Week: a string of nightly networking events, industry workshops and runway shows featuring big names and local designers. Conveniently, they get to keep their DFW acronym.

Also for the first time, the city has thrown some money into the effort. Denver Arts & Venues, the city’s cultural agency, provided funding and venue space for the fashion week’s workshops. Industry pros lead these training sessions for designers and models, teaching them how to grow their brand and business. Arts & Venues program administrator Lisa Gedgaudas says the city invested in Denver Fashion Week because they see it as a “well-primed step in supporting our fast-growing fashion” scene.

A New Growing Scene Vs. A Lost Industry

“I love the Denver scene,” says fashion designer Duane Topping. “But I think it would definitely benefit from more industry.”

This will be the third time Topping participates in a DFW event. He taught himself how to sew after retiring from the military in 2012 and eventually started Topping Designs with his wife. He says his first DFW show, last spring, was his big break.

303 Magazine editor-in-chief Brittany Werges at the Velvet Wolf boutique in Aurora, March 2, 2018.

“This fashion business exploded overnight and what turned out to be something I could do in my basement suddenly turned into a full-on business,” Topping says.

He believes the lack of nearby textile mills, skilled sample makers and a variety of places to buy high-quality fabric and oddball supplies are significant roadblocks for high fashion designers in Denver. Topping has started making trips to Los Angeles to buy his materials.

There used to be more of a textile industry here, though it was never a behemoth. Famed fashion designer Oscar de la Renta actually had his skiwear line designed and made in Colorado in the 70s. Those iconic Frostline outdoor gear kits were manufactured in Broomfield. Most of those factories closed between the 80s and 2000s, as companies started manufacturing overseas.

The textile industry contributed 0.2 percent to the state’s overall Gross Domestic Product in the 1970s, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That has fallen to about 0.1 percent over the last 10 years. And the industry, in the 70s, accounted for an average of just over 3,900 jobs, about 0.3 percent of the state’s employment. Over the last decade, that number has fallen and the textile industry accounted for 0.1 percent of total employment.

The other missing piece are the long gone great retailers, says Carol Engel-Enright of Colorado State University’s Department of Design & Merchandising. She says “that part of the story is often left out.”

Denver fashion designer Khiember Luangphithack works on her creation for the Paper Fashion Show, an affiliate event of Denver Fashion Week, at Denver Design Incubator, March 13, 2018.

Denver’s 16th Street Mall used to be full of major department stores. But in the 80s, around the time of the state’s oil shale bust, retailers took a hit.

“I think Colorado lost its boom economy,” Engel-Enright says. “We had discount retailers moving in and people became more price conscious.”

Besides working as the internship coordinator for CSU’s Design & Merchandising, Engel-Enright is also involved in an initiative to support the garment and sewing industry in rural parts of the state. Rural Colorado Apparel Manufacturing originated around 2014. It has supported manufacturing centers in Wray and Julesburg with training and education.

Bringing back that industry would help other businesses in the region grow, says Jack Makovsky, executive vice president of Ralph’s Industrial Sewing in Denver.

“Everything in the world is sewn,” says the 47 year fashion industry veteran. “Whether it’s your furniture, whether it’s your drapes, your clothing or the seat belts in your car.”

Engel-Enright adds that supporting this industry “matters a lot for small businesses.”

“It’s one thing to have an idea, but another thing to get that small batch, get your products out to the market and test the market,” she says. “You cannot go straight to Asia [for manufacturing], and then try to figure out this business.”

Executive vice president of Ralph’s Industrial Sewing Jack Makovsky with Denver fashion designer Mona Lucero, who runs the Fashion Association of Denver, at the Denver Design Incubator, March 13, 2018.

The continued development of design programs at schools like CSU and the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design — even some high schools — might eventually supply a skilled workforce for that infrastructure.

For now, the Denver fashion community is finding workarounds.

Makovsky is also the chairman of the board of Denver Design Incubator, a nonprofit that Engel-Enright helped establish around 2010. It’s like a co-working space for designers. There are classes and a library full of binders with information about resources. Makovsky says the incubator also connects designers with industry professionals, such as pattern and sample makers.

In a nod toward Duane Topping, Markovsky says you “don’t have to go to New York and LA, we can do it right here.”

Denver Fashion As A National Player?

Ultimately, it comes down to the challenge of selling clothes. Smaller fashion businesses have a tough time meeting price points at boutiques. And runways shows aren’t always set up to draw buyers — but that’s changing.

Massif Fashion Week, coming to Denver in May, has focused on attracting buyers. Director and co-producer Kevin Alexander says they started Massif Fashion Week in 2015 after traveling to fashion weeks in New York and Paris. They give priority to buyers, “such as boutiques and fashion blogger to attend our showcase rather then making it a big party,” Alexander says.

Designers pay to showcase their lines at Massif because the “fashion industry is a business,” Alexander says. “But, at Massif Fashion Week, we provide our designers with a platform that comes with professional services, such as agency-represented models… [and] runway videos and photos of their full collection.”

With the expansion of Denver Fashion Week, 303 Magazine’s Brittany Werges says they also hope to introduce more buyers to local fashion designers: “We’re really trying to connect as many people in the fashion industry as possible.”

There have been Colorado fashion designers that have made a name for themselves nationally.

You may know Denver-born Mondo Guerra from his stint on season eight of “Project Runway” and when he won the first season of “Project Runway: All Stars.” Guerra has since grown his brand beyond TV appearances and moved to New York in 2016.

Fashion designer Rachel Marie Hurst fits model Linsi Bowers at her Glendale studio, March 18, 2018. The looks are part of Hurst’s new plus-size line, which debuts at Denver Fashion Week.

Mona Lucero, who runs the Fashion Association of Denver, says that people sometimes laugh when she tells them she’s a fashion designer based out of Denver. But people are figuring out how to better sell and market themselves online, which Lucero says could open the door for Denver to make a splash on the national scene.

“I know a lot of people who are doing great stuff here and eventually they won’t laugh anymore,” Lucero says.

Even with the obstacles, many Denver fashion designers are committed to staying in Colorado. Some want to be near family, while others enjoy the lifestyle. Mostly though, they have faith in the Denver fashion community.

Despite showing her clothing at New York Fashion Week when she was 26, designer Rachel Marie Hurst says the runway shows at Denver Fashion Week “solidified my career.” She’ll debut her plus-size line this year and says she’s been putting in long hours to get it done. The new collection is “all about sleeves” — which she says is one of her obsessions.

“I love how they layer, how you can do like two pieces, and give a different look for the same outfit,” Hurst says.

She treats her small Glendale studio as a sacred place, and a source of her inspiration. That attitude carries over to DFW and the Denver fashion scene too.

“You can be in love with something and still think that there needs to be a little bit of work done,” Hurst says. “We’re growing, learning, failing and succeeding together. I think Denver is onto something big.”

Denver Fashion Week runs March 18-25, 2018. The fall fashion week runs Nov. 4-11.

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