Loretto Heights Area Plan - Next Steps

Overview

City staff working on implementation of Loretto Heights Area Plan

Since the Denver City Council adopted the Loretto Heights Area Plan in September 2019, city staff have been working with the property owner on next steps for bringing the community vision in the plan to life. This page will be updated periodically with updates on the various steps of this multi-agency process. 

Download the Loretto Heights Area Plan (PDF)


Proposed Rezoning 

As part of the process to make the area plan a reality, the Loretto Heights campus must be rezoned to create the right set of rules and guidelines that will allow for the mix of uses that the community envisioned for the campus. The rezoning application and accompanying development agreement will go before City Council for a public hearing in May. Information on City Council review, including all documents and instructions on how to participate in the hearing will be posted on this page later this month.  


About the Planning Process

Following the sale of the Loretto Heights campus, Denver Community Planning and Development worked with local residents, neighborhood groups and other stakeholders to create a community vision for this 72-acre campus in Southwest Denver. The Loretto Heights Area Plan was a community-driven public process that built on previous work done by local leaders and neighborhood groups, who were eager to put a plan in place, and that gave the public an opportunity to have input in the future of this treasured campus. See archive for more on the process

Planning Process Archive 

City Council Hearing and Adoption 

More than three dozen residents and stakeholders stayed late into the evening to testify at the City Council public hearing for the Loretto Heights Area Plan, which was adopted by the council following the hearing, Monday, September 16, 2019. 

Download the final adopted plan (PDF)


Feedback on draft plan recommendations

More than 200 residents completed an online survey to provide feedback on the draft Loretto Heights Area Plan. See the survey results below to see what community members thought about plan recommendations. 

Read the plan recommendations on land use, preservation and economy

General Recommendations
LU - 01 Allow for a diverse mix of land uses
  • Explore partnership opportunities that promote civic and community land uses that support the surrounding community
  • Encourage the development of “missing middle” housing (duplexes, rowhomes and small apartment buildings as a buffer between existing single-unit residential and more intensive uses in the core of the former campus
  • Strongly consider the application of more urban neighborhood contexts to facilitate development that better aligns with the vision for the community center
  • Promote an active, livable neighborhood, enhance the regional draw and foster a unique identity for southwest Denver
LU - 02 Promote and anticipate growth in areas adjacent to transit priority streets
  • Encourage higher-density, mixed-use development along Federal Boulevard
  • Support transit-oriented development through land use regulations in close conjunction with transit investments
  • Develop a strategic plan to address infrastructure needs and investments
LU - 03 Encourage coordinated development to ensure appropriate community benefits are provide
  • Use large development review, or similar tools to coordinate open space and infrastructure while minimizing and mitigating negative impacts on surrounding residential areas
  • Integrate development with existing street and block patterns where possible and provide connections to new and existing open space within the surrounding areas
LU - 04 Ensure compatible new development
  • Introduce building forms, such as duplexes and rowhomes, as a transition from single-unit to higher intensity, mixed-use areas.
  • Apply zoning regulations, with special attention to neighborhood context, to achieve development outcomes that reflect the highly connected, mixed-use vision for the area.
  • Explore additional regulatory tools, including design standards and guidelines, to ensure distinctive design that complements and relates to existing buildings on the campus and surrounding residential areas
  • Consider the development of a neighborhood pattern book to ensure high-quality residential infill that is compatible with existing residential design
LU - 05 Create quality streetscapes that contribute to the neighborhood character and sense of place
  • Create pedestrian friendly streets through attractive building facades, street trees, landscaping, lighting and street furnishing.
  • Promote a street relationship by locating buildings closer to the street, especially within centers and along corridors
  • Create a variety of public spaces for recreational and social interaction, such as plazas, parks, playgrounds and community gardens.
  • Ensure that building massing, height, and design appropriately reflect the human scale, especially within centers and along corridors.
  • Enhance placemaking by providing additional decorative elements such as paving, public art, and signage.

Do you agree with the land use recommendations?

Question: Do you agree or disagree that the land use and urban design recommendations should be a priority?

Responses:

  • Strongly Agree: 80 percent
  • Somewhat Agree: 16 percent
  • Neither Agree Nor Disagree: 2 percent
  • Somewhat Disagree: 2 percent
  • Strongly Disagree: 0 percent

Number of participants: 231


Historic Preservation
LU - 06 Preserve and re-use historic structures and features on the Loretto Heights campus
  • Utilize historic preservation tools like historic designation, preservation easements and historic covenants to support preservation and re-use
  • Determine viable use/re-use options for the historic structures and features
LU - 07 Identify and preserve historic character of neighborhoods
  • Complete neighborhood building surveys, possibly as part of the citywide building survey Discover Denver, to identify historically and architecturally significant structures and areas
  • Apply historic preservation tools like historic district designation and conservation overlay districts to regulate design changes in areas of significance
  • Utilize state rehabilitation tax credits for historically designated properties to assist homeowners with property maintenance and rehabilitation that contributes to neighborhood character preservation
LU - 08 Balance new development with existing historic character of campus and neighborhoods
  • Promote new design that is compatible with the historic character of the Loretto Heights campus and surrounding neighborhoods
  • Maintain historic views to and from the campus

Do you agree with the historic preservation recommendations?

Question: Do you agree or disagree that the historic preservation recommendations should be a priority?

Responses:

  • Strongly Agree: 82 percent
  • Somewhat Agree: 12 percent
  • Neither Agree Nor Disagree: 3 percent
  • Somewhat Disagree: 1 percent
  • Strongly Disagree: 1 percent

Number of participants: 231 


Economy
LU - 09 Provide quality educational opportunities for all residents
  • Identify the barriers contributing to lower educational attainment
  • Provide support to underserved and underrepresented communities with regulatory processes, education, training, helping with marketing or increasing access to capital
LU - 10 Promote a full range of employment options
  • Expand the allowance for creative industries, maker spaces, artists and small business
  • Identify incentives to reduce rent and business costs to help create new spaces for small neighborhood-serving businesses
  • Support business development-oriented organizations that are geared towards creating economic opportunity across Denver
  • Actively foster a relationship with Denver Economic Development & Opportunity to align citywide goals and initiatives with the needs of the local community
  • Promote workforce development programs, such as construction workforce apprenticeship programs.
LU - 11 Minimize involuntary displacement and gentrification
  • Promote programs that help stabilize homeowners in the Loretto Heights plan area. These types of programs should:
LU - 12 Encourage and incentivize more affordable housing development
  • Create incentives for new and infill affordable housing developments that exceed the number of required units, in exchange for expedited processes, density bonuses, or fee reductions, especially along high-transit corridors like Federal Boulevard.
  • Incentivize the preservation and re-use of existing smaller and affordable homes in the area plan neighborhoods
  • Support housing development funds, grant programs, publicprivate partnerships, community land trusts and other financial tools to acquire land for affordable housing development.
LU - 13 Integrate affordable housing throughout the plan area to accommodate households of different ages, sizes, and incomes.
  • Encourage the development of affordable missing middle housing types such as: duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, rowhomes, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and live/work units.
  • Incentivize new development to create family-friendly sized units for larger and/or multi-generational families.
  • Explore options to adaptively reuses existing buildings and structures for affordable housing, especially within centers and along major transit corridors.

Do you agree with the economy and housing recommendations? 

Question: Do you agree or disagree that the economy and housing recommendations should be a priority?

Responses:

  • Strongly Agree: 77 percent
  • Somewhat Agree: 11 percent
  • Neither Agree Nor Disagree: 4 percent
  • Somewhat Disagree: 5 percent
  • Strongly Disagree: 3 percent

Number of participants: 231

Read the recommendations on mobility

Proposed Future Streets 
MOB - 01 Enhance the existing street network
  • Update existing streets to improve their functionality and connectivity
  • Update existing intersections to increase safely and comfort for pedestrians and bicyclists
MOB - 02 Promote street network safety
  • Collaborate with local law enforcement to enforce posted speed limits
  • Explore the opportunity to provide traffic calming measures along collector streets in the plan area, where feasible
  • Study traffic impacts new development may have in the plan area
MOB - 03 Build a complete street network
  • Implement new north/south and east/west connections across the plan area that connect to existing streets and neighborhoods.
  • Avoid Dartmouth Avenue having direct, unobstructed access from Federal Boulevard west to the Dartmouth Heights neighborhood
  • Study a new street connection extending south from the DSST campus towards the existing service road north of Floyd Avenue as a way to relieve DSST traffic congestion along Dartmouth Avenue
  • Encourage streets across the plan area to have enhanced pedestrian walkways and amenity zones with additional street trees, green infrastructure, or landscape.
  • Incorporate a variety of street types
Proposed Pedestrian Priority Streets
MOB - 04 Increase access to multi-use trails, pathways and parks and open space
  • Prioritize creating seamless pedestrian and bicycle connections to Loretto Heights Park
  • Update and improve connections to the regional trail system and transit
MOB - 05 Create a complete pedestrian network
  • Prioritize the construction of missing sidewalks and increase the width of sidewalks less than four feet in the plan area, with emphasis on connections to schools, community gathering spaces, transit stops and employment centers
  • Create a robust street tree canopy by using best practices for tree planting and maintenance
  • Incorporate green infrastructure and streetscape amenities on all streets such as: attractive landscaping, green infrastructure planters, restaurant seating, benches, public art, and trash/recycling receptacles
  • Create block sizes that are walkable
  • Provide pedestrian facilities on all streets and ensure safe pedestrian access for people walking or rolling
Proposed Bicycle Priority Streets
MOB - 06 Create a complete bikeable network
  • Update and provide connections to existing bicycle infrastructure outside of the plan area
  • Explore bike corridor improvements
  • Incorporate bicycle facilities
Proposed Transit Priority Streets
MOB - 07 Enrich the public transit experience
  • Implement the Denver Moves Transit Plan recommendations for a “High-Capacity Transit Corridor” along Federal Boulevard
  • Maintain and support enhancements to existing local bus service and coverage
  • Improve bus stop amenities in the plan area
MOB - 08 Increase the use of shared mobility options
  • Encourage the use of shared mobility options such as electric scooters, electric bikes, bike shares, etc.
  • Explore ways to improve last-mile connections, including ridesharing and carsharing programs, private shuttles, and wayfinding signage
MOB - 09 Improve resident access to transit
  • Conduct neighborhood outreach to provide new transit option updates, and to collect information related to potential transit route demand and access needs
  • Work with RTD to explore possible reduced fare programs based on income and potential group rate options.

Do you agree with the mobility recommendations

Question: Do you agree or disagree that the mobility recommendations should be a priority?

Responses:

  • Strongly Agree: 82 percent
  • Somewhat Agree: 14 percent
  • Neither Agree Nor Disagree: 3 percent
  • Somewhat Disagree: 1 percent
  • Strongly Disagree: 0 percent

Number of participants: 231

Read the recommendations on quality of life

Healthy and Active Living
QOL - 01 Increase fresh food access, availability and affordability
  • Build a healthier community food environment
  • Provide a variety of transportation options to access fresh food in the Loretto Heights plan area
  • Support food recovery and reducing wasted food in the Loretto Heights plan area
QOL - 02 Connect existing open space, parks, trails and recreational assets
  • Improve the connection between Loretto Heights Park and the former Loretto Heights Campus
  • Connect the redevelopment of the former Loreto Heights campus with the existing regional trail system
QOL - 03 Create new community gathering spaces to accommodate a variety of activities for residents and visitors
  • Encourage new public spaces that are dispersed throughout the plan area
  • Create a public space network that seamlessly connects and integrates Loretto Heights Park and other public spaces with the redevelopment.
  • Identify underutilized right-of-way space to provide additional public space
  • Encourage privately owned and operated open spaces and facilities to be publicly accessible
Proposed Parks and Open Spaces
QOL - 04 Provide a variety of amenities that contribute to a sense of place, and enhance active and passive uses
  • Enhance Loretto Heights Park with recreational activities and programs that support community needs and desires
  • Provide park amenities that are multi-generational, such as play features for all ages and abilities, seating for adults, interactive play features for all ages and abilities.
  • Encourage a signage and wayfinding plan to be developed to provide meaningful and attractive tools to help users effectively navigate the Loretto Heights plan area, surrounding neighborhoods, and the regional trail network
QOL - 05 Strengthen and expand the tree canopy
  • Provide enough trees to exceed Denver Parks and Recreation’s goal of 20% tree canopy coverage in every neighborhood as identified in Game Plan for a Healthy City
QOL - 06 Encourage higher quality design of park and public spaces
  • Maintain Loretto Heights Park and other public spaces to a higher standard by developing a comprehensive maintenance plan
  • Identify public and private partnerships to maintain and operate future parks and public spaces within the plan area
QOL - 07 Design and implement natural and engineered green infrastructure systems
  • Encourage a network of large-scale and site-scale green infrastructure within public and privately-owned spaces that mitigates the impacts caused by impervious surfaces
  • Improve water quality in the West Harvard Gulch and Bear Creek Stormwater Basins by incorporating green infrastructure systems that connect to Bear Creek and the South Platte River and treat all storm water runoff prior to the introduction into these larger systems of waterways
  • Use best practices to ensure storm drainage design, installation, maintenance, and management incorporates strategies and design solutions identified in Denver’s Ultra Urban Green Infrastructure Guide
  • Work with other city departments to establish regulations to minimize impervious surfaces and utilize materials and techniques that allow for natural water absorption and flow
  • As a result of the redevelopment of the former Loretto Heights campus the new street layout should accommodate both stormwater and wastewater needs as much as possible

Do you agree with the quality of life recommendations?

Question: Do you agree or disagree that the quality of life recommendations should be a priority?

Responses:

  • Strongly Agree: 82 percent
  • Somewhat Agree: 15 percent
  • Neither Agree Nor Disagree: 3 percent
  • Somewhat Disagree: 3 percent
  • Strongly Disagree: 1 percent

Number of participants: 231


Kick-off survey results

Learn about neighbors' hopes and concerns for Loretto heights as well as other details we heard from the community, both through an online survey and at two community meetings. 

What do you like about the Loretto Heights area?

Question: What do you like about the Loretto Heights area, or what helps it stand out? Drop a pin on the map or leave a general comment below.

Responses:

  • Parks and open spaces: 194
  • Area's history and historic buildings: 117
  • Views from the campus and of the tower: 107
  • Administration building and tower: 89
  • Theater building: 47

Total pins and comments: 762

Summary: Residents feel a strong emotional connection to the Loretto Heights campus, citing its open spaces, rich history and architecture. Many love that the Administration Building’s tower can be seen from miles around (a “beacon for home” in the neighborhood), and that the campus itself offers walkable pathways, beautiful views, and an opportunity to connect to nature.

What concerns or worries do you have about Loretto Heights?

Question: What concerns or worries do you have about Loretto Heights that should be addressed? Drop a pin on the map or leave a general comment below.

Responses:

  • Potential for increasing traffic and parking issues: 117
  • Needs improved walkability and pedestrian safety: 86
  • Potential loss of historic character and buildings: 76
  • Potential loss of parks and open spaces: 56
  • Area needs maintenance/clean-up and revitalization: 46

Total pins and comments: 555

Summary: Many residents expressed concern about the effects any new development might have on the area, from a potential loss of historic structures and open spaces, to an increase in traffic drawn in by new amenities. Others also pointed out more general areas for potential improvement, including a need for better pedestrian amenities (sidewalks, safe crossings), general maintenance on campus, and revitalization along Federal Blvd.

What are your hopes for Loretto Heights?

Question: What are your hopes for the area, or any opportunities you see for how the area can be improved? Drop a pin on the map or leave a general comment below.

Responses:

  • Revitalized area that serves the community: 116
  • Preserve character, buildings, campus spirit: 105
  • Preserve open spaces and improve park areas: 94
  • Reuse as a community center with cultural amenities: 57
  • Improved walkability and pedestrian safety: 57

Total pins and comments: 483

Summary: Residents would like to ensure what they love about the area is preserved, but they are also cautiously excited about the area’s potential. Many would love to see the campus adapted as a walkable new community hub, with cultural amenities that celebrate the area’s history and businesses that are welcoming, inclusive, and accessible to all.


Steering Committee

The planning process was guided by a steering committee made up of members of the community and area leaders representing various organizations and constituencies. All of its meetings were open to the public. Meeting materials are available below.

Committee Members

Name
Affiliation Alternate
Councilman Jolon Clark Denver City Council District 7
Councilman Kevin Flynn Denver City Council District 2
Norma Brown Loretto Heights alumna Martha Kirkpatrick
Father Joseph Dang Vietnamese American Community of Colorado
Tara Durham South Mar Lee/Brentwood/Sharon Park Neighbors Donna Repp
Sister Mary Nelle Gage Sisters of Loretto Ruth Routten
Jim Gibson Harvey Park Community Organization J.J. Niemann
Clare Harris College View Neighborhood Association Elin Franzen
Tony Hernandez Loretto Heights Community Initiative Larry Ambrose
John Moore Dartmouth Heights Association Emily Moore
John Olson Historic Denver
Kasandra Ornelas Southwest Denver Coalition Pearl Lopez
Adriana Peña Denver Public Schools, Denver School of Science and Technology
Andrew Rogge City of Sheridan Sally Daigle
Bill Van Meter Regional Transportation District Bill Sirois
Stacy Wahrer Catholic Charities
Mark Witkiewicz Westside Investment Partners, Inc.

 


Meetings

 

Steering Committee Meetings

If you use assistive technology and need additional help with any of the documents below, contact planning@denvergov.org.

Steering Committee Meeting #1
Tuesday, October 30 


Steering Committee Meeting #2 
Tuesday, November 27


Steering Committee Meeting #3 
Tuesday, December 18


Steering Committee Meeting #4 
Tuesday, January 22

Steering Committee Meeting #5
Tuesday, February 26


Steering Committee Meeting #6
Tuesday, March 26


Steering Committee Meeting #7
Tuesday, April 23


Steering Committee Meeting #8
Tuesday, May 28


Steering Committee Meeting #9
Tuesday, June 25


Steering Committee Meeting #10
Tuesday, June 25

Community Meetings

Community Meeting #1
Tuesday, January 15


Spanish-language Community Meeting
Saturday, March 16


Community Meeting #2
Saturday, June 1


Community Meeting #3
Saturday, July 9