Back to school with DPS

Marilee Utter.
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Although Denver would seem to be all DNC, all the time, it appears that the city will carry on after August 28.

Evidence of this came in an August 19 Rocky Mountain News story, which reported that the Urban Land Institute has recommended the DPS facility in the next block -- currently the Contemporary Learning Academy at 2211 East 27th Avenue -- is one of ten properties recommended for sale, with the potential of raising between $50 and $75 million for the DPS.

The rumor that this building might be sold first surfaced a few months ago, and sent our tiny neighborhood -- a block of historic buildings that has already seen the oldest house removed from landmark protections, and where parking is already at a premium every night -- into a tiny tizzy. But after one local developer spoke to the ULI (not surprisingly, he thought lofts might be the way to go), which was evaluating a dozen properties for the DPS, we heard nothing.

Until now.

So I called Marilee Utter, who's been working on the ULI study. "It's a great property, in a great neighborhood," she said. "But the building is no beauty."

No argument there. Originally an office building for the Farm Bureau, it later served as the local headquarters for USA Today before becoming an alternative high school. Except for the central location, there's not much more to recommend it as a school. But there's plenty to recommend its sale -- particularly the million-dollar view, which stretches from Coors Field to Pikes Peak. (Make that multi-million-dollar view -- the small, suddenly unhistoric bungalow down the block is now listed for a million.)

In all, the ULI recommended two buildings for immediate sale, eight more (including CLA) for eventual sale, put two more on hold -- and for the DPS to take a very strategic look at its property using a professional asset manager. "The biggest issue for us was now or later," said Utter. "But move with the speed of government, and the market will be back by then.”

I welcomed the DPS as a neighbor, and I welcome the chance for the DPS to solve some of its budget problems by selling the building -- so long as they come up with a replacement school for those at-risk students.

And remember to tell the neighbors that, after the DNC, the city will carry on after all. -- Patricia Calhoun

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