Neighbors push back against development plans

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DENVER -- A historic college campus in southwest Denver is about to get a major face-lift.

Developers from Westside Investment Partners purchased the lot at the corner of Federal Boulevard and Dartmouth Avenue with “plans to bring the area back to life”.

The school was built in the 1800s by the Sisters of Loretto. Its main building is an iconic red sandstone tower.

“Believe it or not, it granted the first high school diploma in the territory of Colorado,” Jim Gibson said.

Gibson taught political science at the school, which became Colorado Heights College, for one semester. It closed in November.

He now leads the Loretto Heights Community Initiative, a grassroots organization focused on helping the property transition into the future.

“Our goal is to preserve the character of this beautiful property,” he said.

While the plans for redevelopment aren’t finalized, it will likely include shops, restaurants and housing.

“They’re thinking of creating a kind of urban village,” Gibson said. “They’re looking at possibly making this a destination point where people will come from other parts of the city.”

The redevelopment project will open the historic campus to people who have never had a reason to visit it before.

“I feel it will even make the property more attractive to live on and work in,” Gibson said.

However, there is concern from community members about potential negative side effects.

“One thing we’re very worried about is obviously what will be the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods,” he said.

They’re also worried about losing the college’s historic charm.

“So much of Denver right now is going under a lot of redevelopment and we don’t want it to lose its roots,” Gibson said.

According to plans on Westside Investment Partners’ website, the tower will remain and will be repurposed for future use. It also says there is a possibility other buildings will be similarly repurposed.

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