The Denver Faculties Board approves the acquisition of a portion of Johnson & Wales’ campus for $ 30 million

The buildings on the Johnson & Wales University campus that Denver Public Schools are buying are Aspen Hall, Whatley Chapel, Wildcat Center, and Academic Center, clockwise from top left. (Thomas Gounley photos)

Denver Public Schools will buy a portion of Johnson & Wales University after a unanimous vote by the school committee on Thursday.

Four buildings on the university campus that are slated to be closed will become an extension of the Denver School of the Arts of the school system, a magnet school for sixth- through twelfth graders across the street.

The vote to approve the deal was preceded by very little board discussion, but Vice President Jennifer Bacon expressed her support.

“This is an opportunity for our community to not just really think about purchasing property and not just expanding potential seating for (Denver School of the Arts), but hopefully getting us to have inclusion talks across the county Art extensively in our schools, ”said Bacon. “For all of our communities watching this, thank you very much for your feedback and thoughts. We look forward to adding additional slots to our community to gain access to the arts. “

BusinessDen previously reported that four buildings on campus – the Wildcat Center, Academic Center, Aspen Hall, and Whatley Chapel – were earmarked for the School of the Arts expansion.

The Magnet School currently has 1,100 students, and since 2003 it has exceeded the planned capacity of 900 students. About 500 applicants are turned away annually, and DPS said the acquisition could allow the school to add between 600 and 800 students.

Johnson & Wales paid around $ 30.5 million for the campus in two transactions in 1999 and 2003, records show. The Rhode Island-based university announced in 2020 that it would close campuses in Denver and others across the country this summer.

The Urban Land Conservancy, a Denver-based not-for-profit organization, has signed an agreement to purchase the 13-acre campus and sell the four buildings to DPS.

The Denver Housing Authority, meanwhile, will buy a separate portion of ULC’s campus for $ 9.5 million.

A ULC spokeswoman declined to email questions on Friday, referring to a confidentiality agreement with Johnson & Wales.

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