Planning for Ruffatto Hall Proceeds
September 23, 2008 - The University took a significant public step toward a new school of education building
Sept. 17 when it won approval from the Denver Planning Board to rezone the site.
The rezoning is essential to the project.
Denver's present zoning code does not permit the 2.5-acre property on East Evans Avenue between High and Race streets to be used as a college or university. To remedy that, DU has asked the city to change the zoning for that area from its present mix of R-1 and R-2 residential to R-3, which is a multi-unit residential designation that allows university buildings.
Approving the request would remove a major obstacle to constructing Ruffatto Hall, the $23 million centerpiece of the Morgridge College of Education.
Wednesday's airing before the Planning Board was the first of three administrative hurdles. Next up is the Blueprint Denver committee, which is to consider whether the rezoning squares with Denver's master plan and can go forward to City Council, which has the final say. Dates for both public meetings have not yet been set.
City planners have recommended that the rezoning be approved, and the Planning Board agreed Wednesday without comment or objection.
"The proposal allows reinvestment within the University of Denver campus while establishing the edge of the campus beyond which the neighborhood will not face encroachment," analysis from the community planning and development staff says.
DU has gradually acquired the property affected by the rezoning, which includes a two-story brick apartment building on Evans Avenue, 12 single-family homes, a parking lot and a group home.
In addition, the University has been briefing community groups on the rezoning proposal for months. In February, DU won preliminary approval from the West University Community Association, in whose territory the project sits, and received a formal endorsement on Sept. 10.
Ruffatto Hall is intended to be an educational hub for research, teaching and academic interaction in a technologically sophisticated environment. The building is named for Katherine A. Ruffatto, daughter of Joan and Mike Ruffatto, who donated $5 million in recognition of help their daughter received through the University's Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP).
The new building will house the LEP program as well as other pieces of the Morgridge College, which was named for Carrie and John Morgridge. The philanthropic couple donated $10 million to spearhead the building drive.
by Richard Chapman