DU leads way as uni­ver­si­ties dras­ti­cally change land­scape

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Monte Wha­ley

Den­ver­metro uni­ver­si­ties are launch­ing con­struc­tion projects this sum­mer aimed at al­le­vi­at­ing grow­ing en­roll­ment, but noth­ing is as am­bi­tious as the far­reach­ing changes planned for the Uni­ver­sity of Den­ver.

While the Uni­ver­sity of Colorado Den­ver and Regis Uni­ver­sity are adding hous­ing, DU is not only build­ing a new $143 mil­lion first­year dorm. The 11,600­en­roll­ment, pri­vate uni­ver­sity is also plow­ing ahead with a “rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion” of the cam­pus and stu­dent ex­pe­ri­ence, uni­ver­sity of­fi­cials said.

Those plans in­clude turn­ing a six­acre par­cel on the north side the 125­acre cam­pus into a col­lege town­en­vi­ron­ment with a vi­brant mix of re­tail, res­tau­rants and of­fice space com­bined with af­ford­able and mar­ket rate hous­ing. The uni­ver­sity even plans to throw a ho­tel into the mix.

The three new build­ings — a 500­bed dorm; a com­mu­nity com­mons that in­cludes class­rooms and pro­gram space; and a ca­reer cen­ter for stu­dent men­tor­ships — will open in the fall of 2020. The other, even big­ger changes will come over the next decade or so af­ter the uni­ver­sity forges pub­lic/ pri­vate part­ner­ships with de­vel­

op­ers, said DU chan­cel­lor Re­becca Chopp.

The goal is to make the DU cam­pus more invit­ing to neigh­bors who may want to attend a con­cert or eat a meal there while en­tic­ing stu­dents to stay on cam­pus both day and night, Chopp said.

“We are just open­ing up the uni­ver­sity for a va­ri­ety of pos­si­bil­i­ties for us and our neigh­bors,” she said. “We’ve known for a long time that peo­ple over the age of 55 love to live by cam­puses and par­take in a school’s mu­sic and cul­tural events. And if we can get more stu­dents to stay on cam­pus, that will re­duce traf­fic in the lo­cal neigh­bor­hoods and just add to the cam­pus ex­pe­ri­ence.”

DU’s Ritchie Cen­ter al­ready draws hun­dreds of thou­sands to cam­pus for sports, while the New­man Cen­ter at­tracts sim­i­lar num­bers to per­form­ing arts events, Chopp said. “These are al­ready as­sets to the com­mu­nity, and adding more re­tail and more things to do at DU will help not only the school more but the com­mu­nity as well,” she said.

Adding more on-cam­pus hous­ing op­tions will help grad­u­ate stu­dents who chron­i­cally strug­gle to find af­ford­able homes and apart­ments, she said.

Chopp wants DU to em­u­late other uni­ver­si­ties that went into their com­mu­ni­ties to ex­pand ser­vices and in­flu­ence. At­lanta’s Emory Uni­ver­sity — where Chopp served as provost –– is a ma­jor eco­nomic en­gine that pro­duces a $9.1 bil­lion eco­nomic im­pact and em­ploys 30,000 work­ers in the At­lanta area.

Den­ver City Coun­cil­man Paul Kash­mann, who rep­re­sents the DU area, cheers the uni­ver­sity’s ef­forts to be a com­mu­nity part­ner and to help re­lieve the hous­ing crunch.

“I’m ex­cited that chan­cel­lor Chopp wants to blur the lines and turn the uni­ver­sity more out­ward and face the com­mu­nity,” Kash­mann said. “And the new dorm they are build­ing will be a huge help. For years, we’ve had so many of those kids out in the com­mu­nity liv­ing in homes built for two or three peo­ple but hous­ing five or six stu­dents.”

Kash­mann said he doesn’t see the uni­ver­sity try­ing to el­bow out other busi­nesses by invit­ing more re­tail and res­tau­rants on cam­pus. “I do think they are try­ing to broaden their of­fer­ings, and in­stead of stu­dents go­ing to Cherry Creek or down­town, they will stay close to cam­pus,” he said. “Of course, the mar­ket econ­omy is go­ing to have a lot to say about this as well.”

Doni­van Cano, the gen­eral man­ager for the Pi­o­neer Bar, said the neigh­bor­hoods around DU are al­ready sat­u­rated with bars and res­tau­rants, and the uni­ver­sity’s plans to add more may end up putting some out of busi­ness. “But I think we have pretty good thing go­ing here,” Cano said. “I think we will be fine.”

Other metro uni­ver­si­ties are tak­ing on ex­pan­sion projects as well.

Uni­ver­sity of Colorado Den­ver plans to build a dorm on its por­tion of the Au­raria cam­pus for its firstyear stu­dents and to find some­one to de­velop a three-acre par­cel — with a pos­si­ble din­ing op­tion — next to the 700-bed Cam­pus Vil­lage Apart­ments, near East Col­fax Av­enue and Au­raria Park­way.

Regis Uni­ver­sity, mean­while, has $13.8 mil­lion in con­struc­tion projects on tap for this year, in­clud­ing $9 mil­lion to re­model of its stu­dent cen­ter and $1.7 mil­lion to re­model its field­house. Con­struc­tion also has be­gun on the five-story Vincent J. Bo­ryla Apart­ments, man­aged by Regis Uni­ver­sity and lo­cated a block south of the uni­ver­sity. It will of­fer one-,two-, three-and four-bed­room units.

Bo­ryla, who died in 2016 at age 89, was a pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball player, coach, busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive and long­time sup­porter of Fa­ther Woody’s Ser­vice Projects at Regis.

Hy­oung Chang, The Den­ver Post

A stu­dent walks past the Rick­et­son Law Build­ing at the Uni­ver­sity of Den­ver last week.

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