The 72-acre Loretto Heights school campus closed in 2017 after a long and storied history of 126 years in operation. Founded in South Denver in 1891 by the Sisters of Loretto, Loretto Heights College began as Loretto Heights Academy, a Catholic elementary and secondary school for girls. The campus later evolved into a Teacher Education institution for women, then a four-year women’s college, and eventually a full, multi-program and multi-gender university.
Upon the school’s closing, the site was acquired by Westside Investment Partners, an organization highly in-tuned with the site’s legacy and with goals tied to both respecting and continuing that educational legacy. The site today is still home to a series of beautiful brick structures, some marked on the National Historic Register, as well as a cemetery for the original Sisters of Loretto, well-established landscapes, and much more. These existing amenities have all been incorporated for enhancement within the new development plan.
The SAR+ team worked in the initial framework phases with design collaborator Lake|Flato, later moving into full development planning with a wide-reaching community engagement effort managed in tandem with the City of Denver. The plan, estimated for a complete build out in a 5-10-year timeline, will provide 800+ new housing units and will bring an integrated mix of commercial and new educational uses to the campus. Carefully designed to integrate with zoning restrictions and recent citywide master planning goals, the development will work to protect view corridors around the rolling site and also create several new public open spaces and pedestrian-friendly corridors.