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Wheat Ridge wants to save Temple Buell building



  • Wheat Ridge Housing Authority reaching out to developers.
  • Development ideas wanted to save and re-use Fruitdale School.
  • Building was designed by Temple Hoyne Buell.


Fruitdale School, designed by Temple Buell. Photo by Lu Stasko.

Fruitdale School, designed by Temple Buell. 

Wheat Ridge wants a developer to save and breathe new life into a historic building that was designed by renowned architect Temple Hoyne Buell.

The Wheat Ridge Housing Authority is requesting statements of interest regarding the redevelopment/re-use of the 1927 Fruitdale School at 10801 W. 44th Ave. in Wheat Ridge

It is seeking redevelopment plans for the adaptive re-use of the 13,564-square-foot building that has been vacant for the past seven years.

The WHRA want a developer to revitalize what it describes as one of the community’s significant historic structures.

The building, and a 1,200-square-foot caretaker building, sits on a 1.2-acre site a quarter mile west of Kipling Avenue and a half mile south of Interstate 70.

The request is intended to provide the opportunity for interested developers to demonstrate their interest and capability to develop such a project.

The objective is for prospective developers or development teams to submit sufficient information so that the WRHA can select a short list of finalists who will be invited to present their project concepts to the WRHA and other interested parties.

RFI responses are due by 5 p.m. on June 30.

Late responses will not be accepted. They need to be submitted to Sally Payne in the City of Wheat Ridge building at 7500W. 29th Ave.

The Fruitdale School was constructed in 1926 and 1927.

It represents one of the early works of Mr. Buell, who died in 1990 the age of 94.

Temple Hoyne Buell.

Temple Hoyne Buell.

Mr. Buell came from a prominent Chicago family. His great-grandfather was one of the 13 pioneer families who incorporated Chicago as a village in 1833 and his grandfather was a reform mayor in Chicago.

Mr. Buell moved to Denver in 1921 to be treated for tuberculosis, which was diagnosed after he was exposed to phosgene gas while serving in France during World War I.

In Denver, he designed the Paramount Theater and designed and built the original Cherry Creek Shopping Center, although he did not design the current Cherry Creek Shopping Center, which is owned by the Taubman Co. However, the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation owns the ground lease under the Cherry Creek Shopping Center.

In 1946, he presented to the Urban Land Institute the concept of the “central-mall” of parking lots encircling the shops, which became the prototype for modern malls.

Mr. Buell designed the Fruitdale School after the original school, constructed in 1883, was destroyed by a fire in 1926.

Elements of the redbrick, two-story building such as the decorative brickwork are typical of Buell’s work

The building, originally part of the Jefferson County School District, remained in use as an elementary school until 1978.

The building was then used as a Jefferson County School District preschool until 2007 when the new Norma Anderson Preschool was opened adjacent to Fruitdale.

Additions were added to the original building on both the east and west sides of the building in 1954.

The west addition, which houses a gymnasium, cafeteria and kitchen, remains.

The east addition was removed in 2006 when the new preschool was built by the school district.

There is also a one story frame and brick “caretaker’s house” on the site.

The land for the school was donated to the original school district in 1883.

In the original 1883 deed conveying the land to the school district, the grantors of the land included a restriction in the deed that states if the building ceases to be used for school purposes it will revert to the grantors or their heirs.

This deed restriction was determined by the WRHA attorney to still be legally enforceable.

The WRHA could assist with addressing the deed restriction.

Another view of the Fruitdale School, designed by Temple Buell.

Another view of the Fruitdale School, designed by Temple Buell.

With technical assistance from Colorado Preservation Inc. the WRHA purchased the building in 2011 to save it from demolition after the Jefferson County School District was unable to find a new use for the building.

The WRHA and the City of Wheat Ridge would like to see the building redeveloped/reused for a viable new use that would ideally benefit the community.

In early 2012, the WRHA obtained a grant from the State Historic Fund for the development of a Historic Structure Assessment and Preservation Plan of the building.

Denver-based Slaterpaull Architects developed an assessment for the building in 2012.

The HSA identifies construction improvements necessary to restore the building to a habitable condition and the associated costs.

Approximately $2.2 million in improvements were identified for the building divided in critical, serious and minor deficiencies.

In the spring of 2013, another SHF grant was received for the development of construction documents to specifically address items identified in the HSA.

These construction documents, also being prepared by Slaterpaull Architects will be completed this month.

With assistance from CPI, Fruitdale School was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013, making the building eligible for federal historic preservation tax credits.

A valuation and market assessment of the property was prepared by Butler Burgher Group, LLC in 2013 to assist the WRHA in determining the viability of converting the building into a housing use.

This study includes an analysis of the highest and best use for the building looking at a range of uses.

Upon review of this assessment, the WRHA decided not to pursue use of the building for housing given the cost and in consideration of other WRHA projects and available funds. Instead, the WRHA decided to solicit informational proposals for the reuse of the building.

For more information: http://www.ci.wheatridge.co.us/index.aspx?nid=265

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