Denver City Council on Monday approved a rezoning and development deal for Loretto Heights, cementing the plan to revitalize the century-old Harvey Park South college campus.
The Loretto Heights Regional Plan, adopted in 2019, intends to transform Loretto Heights, 72 hillside acres southwest of Denver, into a community center comprised of a mixed-use development that reuses some of the historic assets. campus while preserving others.
Community Planning and Development Executive Director Laura Aldrete called Monday’s bills the “muscle” behind the community’s vision.
“These regulations and requirements are the assurance to anyone who has attended a public meeting or submitted comments that the resulting development will reflect their efforts and participation,” said Aldrete.
The rezoning and development agreement will provide street improvements, new bike lanes, development to match surrounding neighborhoods, climate-friendly construction under the Denver Green Code and a plan for the preservation and maintenance of historic buildings on the campus.
The bills also commit to providing affordable housing for sale and rent on campus. One of the old dormitories, Pancratia Hall, is already being redeveloped into an affordable 72-unit apartment complex for residents who earn 30% to 80% of the region’s median income.
Officials said they received 16 letters of support for the bills and two letters of opposition during the outreach process. Likewise, on Monday, city council received 11 written comments in favor and two in opposition.
In addition, more than two dozen community members called during Monday’s public hearing to express their views on the bills.
“The campus has become a ghost and a shell, crumbling and disappearing,” Martha Kirkpatrick, a 1982 graduate of Loretto Heights College, said at the public hearing. “May he be rewarded for having waited.” May he be rewarded with voices and laughter, life and a new legacy. “
Donna Repp of the Mar Lee neighborhood said her neighborhood unanimously approved the Loretto Heights area plan in 2019 and continues to support it today. She expressed her enthusiasm for finally having a community gathering point.
“There is no denying that Loretto Heights is a gem,” said Repp. “I was never allowed to land freely on Loretto Heights because it was private property. For the very first time, Loretto Heights will be accessible to all to enjoy … keeping Loretto’s wonderful spirit and character.
However, some appellants raised issues with the invoices and the plan for the Loretto Heights area as a whole.
Xochitl Gaytan, former president of the Harvey Park Community Organization and current co-chair of the Colorado Latina Forum, opposed the bills on Monday. She said the Harvey Park community organization opposed the 2019 plan, saying it would lead to gentrification.
“I support smart growth and development when it is done from an equity and social justice perspective, which is very different from overdevelopment,” Gaytan said. “The city of Denver is the second most gentrified city in the country.”
Gaytan also raised concerns that the developer has 20 years of vesting rights instead of the usual five years and that there is no guarantee that the developer will respond to traffic issues within and around campus.
The Loretto Heights area plan also includes the creation of community gathering spaces and limits building heights to five stories or less across most of the site, with buildings up to eight stories allowed in a relatively central location. small.
The Loretto Heights site first hosted a Catholic boarding school for girls that opened in the late 1800s, and evolved into a series of educational institutions over more than 100 years, eventually becoming the University of Colorado Heights.
The campus was purchased by the Loretto Sisters in 1888 as a Catholic boarding school. Loretto Heights College for Women operated for 70 years before closing in the late 1980s due to declining enrollment. Teikyo University owned the property until it was sold to Westside Investment Partners in 2018.