Urban Land Conservancy Buys Johnson & Wales Campus
In June, the Urban Land Conservancy, Denver Public Schools, and Denver Housing Authority closed on the deal to buy the Johnson & Wales campus at Montview and Quebec, in the southeast area of Park Hill.
The Urban Land Conservancy partnered with the other organizations to preserve the campus for education, housing and community purposes. The campus, which is the former home to the Colorado Women’s College and University of Denver Law School, went on the market when Johnson & Wales announced plans to close its Denver campus last year.
The Urban Land Conservancy is a Denver-based organization with a mission to preserve, develop and manage permanently affordable housing and shared office space for nonprofits and mission-minded organizations Of three finalists that bid on the campus, theirs was the only nonprofit and the only organization with goals to preserve the 25-acre campus for community purposes.
“As a Denver native who spent part of my childhood around the corner from this campus and who watched my mother graduate from DU Law School there, I am immensely proud to have been involved in preserving this longstanding community asset,” said Erin Clark, the Urban Land Conservancy’s vice president of master site development, in a press release.
In the announcement, the organization noted that the campus sits at the intersection of two very different neighborhoods: the southern portion of Park Hill has an average income of $141,851 and 6.06 percent families in poverty. To the east is the East Colfax neighborhood, with an average household income of $57,413 and 23.6 percent families in poverty.
Here’s how the future of the campus is shaping up:
Denver School of the Arts
Denver Public Schools paid $30 million for the four buildings on the west side of the campus. DPS plans to expand its Denver School of the Arts, which is currently on the north side of Montview, across the street from the campus. The expansion will allow DSA to accept 500 to 700 additional students over time, focusing on equity and inclusion of low-income students and students of color. The west campus includes the Wildcat Center, Whatley Chapel, Academic Center, and Aspen Hall.
Denver Housing Authority
The Denver Housing Authority has purchased the south portion of the campus, which includes Triangolo Hall and Gaebe Hall, two former dormitory buildings. The goal is to expand affordable housing opportunities in the community.
Urban Land Conservancy
The Urban Land Conservancy owns the east side of the campus and holds the land in a 99-year ground lease. ULC is partnering with several organizations which will lease and/or purchase buildings on the east campus. Details are as follows:
St. Elizabeth’s School
The Jesuit K-8 grade school is moving from its current location at 2350 Gaylord St. into Centennial Hall — the iconic and much photographed building that is on the National Historic Registry. St. Elizabeth’s has been serving Northeast Denver for 15 years as an intentionally inclusive school with a dedication to equity, belonging, and educational opportunity for all students. The school is expected to open in its new location next month. Other organizations will move to the campus over a more extended period.
BuCu West/The Kitchen Network
BuCu West is Denver’s longest-running shared kitchen, and incubates specialty food businesses. It will expand to the Culinary Arts Building and Vail Hall on the campus, allowing the organization to more than double its impact and number of small businesses served. The nonprofit has retained Jorge de la Torre, the dean of the culinary school at the Johnson & Wales Denver campus and will also partner with Emily Griffith Technical College to provide culinary arts training and certifications.
Archway Communities’ mission is to provide access to affordable housing, food security and supportive social services. The organization, based in Lakewood, will purchase the four residential buildings on the east campus: Johnson Hall, Wales Hall, President’s Hall, and Founder’s Hall.
— Cara DeGette, from wire reports