Auraria campus expansion: See plans for new athletic fields and more

This week's cover story, "Ghosts of Auraria," delves into the half-buried history of the campus, which is moving rapidly forward with hefty development plans that include three new flagship student-services buildings, a hotel, and a leap across Colfax to build new athletic fields on a contaminated industrial site. The changes are coming so fast you need a program to identify the players -- and a few good maps.

Part of the impetus for the current growth spurt at Denver's empire of higher ed is simply a demand for more space; the three institutions sharing the existing campus -- University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and the Community College of Denver -- now collectively enroll three times the number of students that took classes there when Auraria opened 35 years ago. But the creation of public-private partnerships, such as Metro's deal with Marriott to build a hotel that hosts MSU's hospitality program, is also forcing some other moves; the hotel stands where Metro students used to play tennis.

That's why Metro acquired land south of Colfax for new athletic fields, as depicted in this first rendition. Construction of the new courts and a soccer field began this month, with hopes of getting things ready for tennis late this summer.

As detailed in my feature, all three of the institutions are also seeking to develop their own identity and brand, erecting new flagship buildings for their exclusive use. The Auraria Higher Education Center has given each party their own geographic sphere of influence, designating different "neighborhoods" on campus, as shown in the next map. But note how UCD's neighborhood extends across Speer into lower downtown, where its business school and some administrative offices are located. Continue to see another map, as well as the complete master plan.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast

Latest Stories