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Community members to weigh in on redevelopment plans for Loretto Heights campus

Loretto Heights is pegged for redevelopment. Community members want to make sure their voices are heard when it comes to the future of the historic, 70-acre campus.
In 1891 the sisters of Loretto founded the Loretto Heights Academy, a Catholic elementary and secondary school for girls in what would become Harvey Park. In 1948 it became the Loretto Heights College, the only 4-year college for women in the region.

A group of community members and stakeholders want the storied Loretto Heights campus to become a place of gathering while still preserving the history of the southwest Denver campus.

The 70-acre Loretto Heights campus -- located at 3001 S. Federal Blvd. -- is home to the now-shuttered Colorado Heights University (CHU). It's distinguishable by its large, red-hued administration building and tower that can be seen from both US-285 (Hampden Avenue) and Federal Boulevard.

The Loretto Heights Community Initiative (LHCI) is a coalition of communities and citizens whose mission is to "preserve the history, structures, landscape and cultural memory of the Loretto Heights campus." The group presents their proposal for redevelopment Monday at 7 p.m. to the Sheridan City Council.

LHCI outlined its goals for the campus in a release, saying: "Historic preservation is a major priority of the initiative."

LHCI's redevelopment plan calls for a "comprehensive approach" to redevelopment that preserves the campus administration building and chapel and creates a safe mobility network while minimizing the effect on nearby neighborhoods.

"By making themselves heard early and often, southwest Denver residents, surrounding communities and others are taking the initiative now with the hope of producing a 'win-win' for everyone involved, including the new property owner," said LHCI in its release.

The presentation comes after earlier this month Glendale-based Westside Investment Partners purchased the property for $16.5 million with the intention of redeveloping it. The property was previously owned by the Teikyo Group, a Japanese education foundation.

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Teikyo Group in November 2017 announced plans to sell the campus to Oakland, California-based Catellus Development Corp., but that deal fell through in spring 2018.

That was after Teikyo Group in September 2015 tried to gift the campus to Metropolitan State University of Denver, but that deal, too, fell through in March 2016.

Andrew Klein, principal of Westside Investment Partners, said the firm is "committed to protecting the heritage and true value of the capus as we look to best enhance the existing neighborhoods and "provide additional amenities to serve our neighbors.

Martha Newlin Kirkpatrick, chairman of the Architectural Integrity and Historic Preservation Committee of LHCI, said she'd like to see the campus redeveloped into something that includes shopping and small, independently-owned restaurants.

“We would love to see an educational component on the campus no matter what," she added. "We feel that this has always been a place of gathering, and to continue that, I think, would be a wonderful thing."

Loretto Heights was built in the late 1800s and through the years has housed a girl's high school, Loretto Heights College and CHU. There is also a cemetery on the site, on which nuns are buried.

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