Urban Land Conservancy, Denver Public Schools, Denver Housing Authority purchase former Johnson & Wales campus

Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), Denver Public Schools (DPS), and Denver Housing Authority (DHA) announce they have purchased the former Johnson & Wales University Denver campus. Last summer, the university announced it would cease operations in Denver after the 2020-21 school year and sought to sell the entire 25-acre campus. In January of this year, JWU representatives, using CBRE brokers, selected ULC as the lead buyer of the property. ULC submitted a proposal in partnership with DPS and DHA.  Of three finalists that bid on the campus, ULC was the only nonprofit and the only organization with goals to preserve the campus for community purposes. 

“We are pleased that the buyer is a community-based organization with a rich legacy of preserving and reimagining campuses throughout the Denver metro area. ULC’s mission-driven focus was apparent by its ability to immediately partner with the Denver Housing Authority, Denver Public Schools, and St. Elizabeth’s School on key components of the campus,” said Joseph Greene, vice-chancellor of finance and administration at Johnson & Wales University.

Campus Partners
With the completion of this transaction, DPS owns the west side of the campus and plans to expand Denver School of the Arts (DSA) and to utilize the campus as a community arts hub. “When I heard that the [Johnson & Wales] University would be selling the property right across the street, I began thinking about how DSA might expand to the campus to serve more students,” said Dr. Anthony McWright, Principal of Denver School of the Arts. The expansion will allow DSA to accept 500 to 700 additional students over time, focusing on equity and inclusion of low-income students and students of color. The west campus includes the Wildcat Center, Whatley Chapel, Academic Center, and Aspen Hall. 

Denver Housing Authority (DHA) purchased the south portion of the campus, which includes Triangolo Hall and Gaebe Hall, two former dormitory buildings, with the goal of expanding affordable housing opportunities in the community. “DHA is excited about this unique partnership to preserve opportunities for affordable housing in Denver and looks forward to working with the surrounding neighborhoods to create a vibrant community with our partners on campus,” said David Nisivoccia, Executive Director of Denver Housing Authority. Both DHA and DPS were represented in this transaction by Dorit Fischer and Hayden Hirschfeld at NAI Shames Makovsky.

ULC is the new owner of the east side of the campus and holds the land in a 99-year ground lease, which preserves its affordability and commitment to community-serving uses in perpetuity. ULC is partnering with the following organizations which will lease and/or purchase buildings on the east campus: