Contemporary Learning Academy officially for sale as Hentzell Park swap awaits ruling

Judge Herbert Stern will decide on Friday whether the city's swap of eleven acres by Hentzell Park to Denver Public Schools in exchange for a DPS facility at 1330 Fox Street can go through -- or will instead go to a vote of Denver residents on the November ballot.

Meanwhile, though, other moves are already in motion -- including the sale of the Contemporary Learning Academy at the edge of hot-hot LoHi.

And there could be a "world of opportunity" in the transaction, as befits the DPS slogan.

After all, condo and loft projects are popping up all over that part of town -- in areas that don't have the stunning view that the property at 2211 West 27th Avenue boasts.

The proposed Hentzell Park deal is the most controversial part of a complicated building maneuver that started last fall with the DPS's purchase of 1860 Lincoln Street -- where employees now based on Fox will join other DPS departments if the judge signs off.

But the for-sale sign is already up at the CLA building, which once held the Farm Bureau and then a local office of USA Today before turning into an alternative high school campus. Calls to the number on the sign go to DPS "maintenance," which is collecting information on interested buyers and will send out more information on the property next month. You can learn more on this DPS website.

No matter who buys the building, students are slated to continue at the CLA through next June; if all goes as planned, they'll move to a DPS facility at 780 Grant Street for the start of the 2014 school year.

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But not all has gone as planned with the Hentzell Park proposal. Mayor Michael Hancock's plan calls for swapping the land in southeast Denver to DPS, which will build an elementary school there; in exchange, the city will get the building at 1330 Fox that it wants to turn into an assistance center for domestic violence victims. The deal won city council's approval in April, despite considerable opposition from neighbors, environmental groups and even some longtime employees of Denver Parks and Recreation, which had designated the site as a "natural area" just a few years ago. A group called Friends of Denver Parks filed suit to stop the deal, contending that the city needs voter approval to transfer the land -- an argument on which Stern will rule on June 28.

And another controversial part of the package is still pending: the sale of the circa 1925 (with a 1933 addition) building that now houses both the Emily Griffith high school and technical college, and occupies the entire 1200 block of Welton Street, right by the Colorado Convention Center. The DPS plan calls for moving most of the adult-education classes from there to 1860 Lincoln, although DPS will have to find another location for the trade programs, including the auto body, auto mechanic and welding programs. There have been rumblings that some fans of the building will go for historic designation of the structure, which could affect its sales potential; DPS has been working on an assessment of that particular piece of property.

So far, though, no one is wiping a tear over the potential loss of another piece of DPS property: The current DPS administrative building at 900 Grant Street will be sold and the staff relocated to 1860 Lincoln.

And no matter what happens in Stern's courtroom on Friday, the rest of the DPS deal will proceed. "The only piece that would be up in the air is Fox Street," says DPS spokeswoman Kristen Armstrong.

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