The third and final community forum on the future of the Loretto Heights’ campus is tonight, 6 to 8 p.m. in Machebeuf Hall. This process began last year, when Westside Investment Partners purchased the 70-plus-acre spread for about $16 million. The first forum was in January.
The city’s draft plan is available, and as expected it is super aspirational. The city’s planning department took comments from the community and wove them into the plan. Eventually, that plan will go to Denver’s City Council.
And as a reminder: The developer owns the land. Here’s a portion of a Denverite story when the plan was released last month:
“Mark Witkiewicz, a principal at Westside Investment Partners, which bought the property in July 2018, said they could have easily gone directly to the city with their own plan, but they took a different approach giving local residents a say.
“ ‘Community is what creates great projects,’ he said.
“He called the process so far ‘beautiful’ but said it won’t be possible to please ‘100 percent of people.’ At this point, he and his partners have a lowdown on what community members want: A place to call their own.
“ ‘Other parts of Denver get their cool things and southwest Denver has been kind of stuck,’ Witkiewicz said. ‘They don’t believe that they’ve been given the same thing.’ “
I’m not sure if 8-story apartment buildings are “cool,” but housing is a part of the equation.
The developer is also on a roll. This week, Westside is supposed to close on a deal to purchase the Park Hill Golf Course. Recently, Westside also bought a vacant warehouse formerly used by Sports Authority in the Baker neighborhood; the deal, for $16.5 million, also includes two parking lots across the street. It’s ripe for a giant apartment complex.
But back to Loretto Heights. Preservation has been a major factor in the process, with two areas on the campus: The District (basically the academic buildings, plus DSST), and everything else, dubbed Suburban. The draft plan says this:
“Maintaining the prominence of the Administration Building is important to the community and, therefore, no new development shall exceed the roofline of the H-shaped portion of the building. Similarly, the community expressed a desire to maintain the views to/from the Administration Building and there are a number of methods that should be explored to preserve the view, which should include a combination of datum (maximum elevation), limiting the footprint size and dimensions of surrounding buildings and implementing spacing requirements between buildings. This approach, combined with design review and development agreements should result in buildings that complement the character of Loretto Heights.”
The image at the top of this post is reproduced from the draft plan, with “priority” buildings noted in red.
Below are links to the draft plan, the city’s website page for Loretto Heights, a flier for the meeting; to the Denverite story, and a story in BusinessDen about Westside’s purchase in Baker. Finally, there is a link to a Denverite story from last night’s City Council meeting: a reworking of the city’s zoning code in terms of requiring more open space for large development projects. The vote was 13-0 in favor.