Request for Interest: Fruitdale School












Purpose of the Request

The Wheat Ridge Housing Authority (WRHA) is requesting statements of interest regarding the redevelopment/re-use of the 1927 Fruitdale School located at 10801 W. 44th Ave. in Wheat Ridge, CO.  It is seeking redevelopment plans for the adaptive re-use of the building that will revitalize one of the community’s significant historic structures. This request is intended to provide the opportunity for interested developers/parties to demonstrate their interest and capability to develop such a project.

This invitation, together with its Supplemental Information, comprises the Request for Information (RFI).  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 5:00p.m. June 30, 2014.  Late responses will not be accepted.  We look forward to your submittal.


Building History

The Fruitdale School was designed by noted Denver architect Temple Buell and constructed in 1926-1927.  Buell designed the Paramount Theater and original Cherry Creek mall among other notable Denver buildings.  Buell designed the Fruitdale School after the original school, constructed in 1883, was destroyed by a fire in 1926.

The Fruitdale School building is representative of Temple Buell’s early work in the Denver area where he designed several school buildings after Fruitdale.  Elements of the building such as the decorative brickwork are typical of Buell’s work.  The original 1927 structure is a distinctive red brick, two-story building.

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. Later in the RFI options for the deed restriction removal are discussed.

Project History

With technical assistance from Colorado Preservation Inc. (CPI), 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 which would ideally benefit the community.

In early 2012, the WRHA obtained a grant from the State Historic Fund (SHF) for the development of a Historic Structure Assessment and Preservation Plan (HSA) of the building.  SLATERPAULL ARCHITECTS were hired to develop the assessment which was completed in late 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 in March 2014.

With assistance from CPI, Fruitdale School was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.  The building is therefore 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.  As a result of this decision, the WRHA decided to solicit informational proposals for the reuse of the building.

All of the above mentioned documents, as well as other supporting information, are available for review by parties interested in preparing a submittal for this project.

Location and Size

The Fruitdale School is located on the north side of 44th Ave., a major arterial in the northwest part of the City of Wheat Ridge.  The site is approximately ½ mile west of Kipling Ave. and ½ mile south of I-70.  Nearly fully built out with homes and businesses constructed prior to the 1990s, the surrounding area is characterized by single family detached and attached homes in areas away from 44th Ave. with multi-family and a mix of non-residential uses predominantly along 44th Ave.  The property itself is surrounded by commercial uses to the west and south, housing to the north and a preschool to the east.

The proximity of I-70 gives the property good access to downtown Denver to the east as well as to the west/southwest in Golden.  The neighborhood has good accessibility with primary roadways being the boundaries of the neighborhood.

The Regional Transportation District (RTD) has bus routes on 44th Ave. providing good transit  service to the area.  In addition, RTD’s FasTracks Gold Line commuter rail end of line station will be located in Wheat Ridge off of Ward Rd. and 50th Pl. less than two miles to the northwest of the Fruitdale site.

The Clear Creek greenbelt is located on the south side of 44th Ave. The greenbelt is a major asset to the City with trails connecting to the east and west portions of the Denver metro area along the greenbelt.  Prospect Park, a large City park, is located ½ mile to the west of Fruitdale offering numerous recreational and leisure time activities.  The 70,000 square foot Wheat Ridge Recreation Center is approximately one mile to the southeast of the site on Kipling St.

The Fruitdale School building is 13,564 square feet.  The “caretaker’s house” is an additional 1,200 square feet bringing the total gross building area to 14,764.  The buildings sit on 1.2 acre site.


The site is located in the Valley Water District and the Fruitdale Sanitation District.  The Arvada Fire Protection District provides fire service to the area.

The buildings are currently without any utility services.  In preparing the building for demolition, the Jefferson County School District redirected the water and sewer lines to the new adjacent preschool.  New water and sewer taps would need to be acquired.

Current Conditions

The Fruitdale School building has been vacant since 2007.  A new roof was installed on the building in 2011.  Besides the new roof, the building has been secured against the elements and vandalism to the structure.

Environmental remediation was performed on the building by the Jefferson County School District in preparing the building for demolition.

The playground for the Norma Anderson Preschool is currently located on land that is part of the Fruitdale School property deeded to the WRHA.  An agreement was entered into with the Jefferson County School District for use of this playground by the Preschool until the redevelopment of the Fruitdale School site.  At the time of redevelopment, the playground will be moved.  The location of the playground in relation to the Fruitdale parcel is outlined on the parcel map included with the RFI.

Regulatory Framework

The property on which the buildings sit is currently a mix of zoning including R-2, R-3, A-1, and C-1 zone districts.  The property will need to be rezoned to accommodate a new use.

The property is currently divided into several different parcels and will need to be re-platted prior to redevelopment of the site.

The deed restriction or reverter clause previously mentioned will need to be addressed if the future use of the building does not include some type of school use.  The WRHA anticipates facilitating this effort in order to allow for a diverse range of potential re-uses of the building.

The City of Wheat Ridge 2009 Comprehensive Plan, Envision Wheat Ridge, designates 44th Ave. in this area as a Neighborhood Commercial Corridor.  These corridors ideally would contain a broad mix of activities, including small scale pedestrian friendly mixed-use retail, commercial businesses and residential.

In 2007, a subarea plan was created for this section of 44th Ave. entitled the Fruitdale Subarea Plan.  The recommendations in the plan focus on encouraging the revitalization and redevelopment of properties along the corridor.  In keeping with agricultural history of the area, gardening and related land uses are recommended particularly for the western portion of the corridor.  Nodes of mixed-use neighborhood serving businesses are encouraged at a few key intersections along the corridor.  The plan specifically supports finding a viable new use for the Fruitdale School building.

About the City of Wheat Ridge

The City of Wheat Ridge is an inner-ring suburb west of Denver with a population of approximately 31,000.  Wheat Ridge provides a small community feel while still being near the center of the large Denver metropolitan area and is convenient to both the foothills and mountains.

Wheat Ridge historically produced wheat and a variety of fruits and vegetables to serve the Denver region.  Eventually the establishment of greenhouses led the city to become the largest producer of carnations in the world.  The “Carnation City” grew as a bedroom community for Denver workers in the 1950s with commercial development occurring along the main roadways extending from Denver, as part of unincorporated Jefferson County.  Wheat Ridge incorporated in 1969 due to annexation pressures from surrounding jurisdictions.  The city retains much of its agricultural roots today and pockets of development and open lands with a rural feel.

The City has made concerted efforts to revitalize and reposition the City for redevelopment to create a community that will attract new home owners and businesses.  These efforts have proven to be successful with the ongoing revitalization of 38th Ave. into a much needed downtown and community gathering spot for the City.  With  reconfiguration of the roadway to create a more pedestrian and bicycle friendly environment, many new businesses have located along the corridor as well as new homeowners in adjacent neighborhoods taking advantage of the lower real estate prices than in west Denver and the emerging energy and identity of the redevelopment efforts taking place.

About the Wheat Ridge Housing Authority

The Wheat Ridge Housing Authority was established in 2001 with the mission of increasing home ownership in the City. The Authority has focused on purchasing deteriorated residential properties, undertaking rehabilitation to bring the properties to a safe and decent condition and then making the units available for purchase generally to low-to-moderate income families and first time home buyers.  The Authority does not currently own or operate any rental housing, including Section 8, with this function being handled in Jefferson County by the Jefferson County Housing Authority.


Project Vision

The WRHA and the City of Wheat Ridge desires to see the redevelopment of the historic building to a viable new use for the community.  The redevelopment would ideally preserve the historic features of the structure and work to restore many of the original elements of the building.  Despite this desire, the WRHA is interested in receiving submittals for all potential ideas for use of the building without limitation including ideas that would involve demolition of the building and development of the vacant land.  Suggestions for creative or innovative uses of the site of encouraged.

Relevant Documents

Various documents regarding Fruitdale School are either included as part of the RFI packet or are available for review in person at the Wheat Ridge Municipal Building.  Some may be found on the WRHA website at

A complete list of relevant documents can be found at the end of this RFI.

WRHA/City of Wheat Ridge Participation in Project

The WRHA currently has invested approximately $285,000 in the property to include the acquisition cost, new roof, securing and maintenance of the building and grounds, required SHF grant match and market study of the site.  While ideally the Authority would like to recover these funds, they may consider options that could mean a loss on their investment in the property.

The WRHA would incur the cost of the rezoning and re-platting of the property once a new use is identified for the site.

The WRHA or City will assist with the legal action and funding needed to clear the deed restriction on the property if required given a new identified use.

The WRHA is willing to be a joint applicant, where appropriate and necessary, for government or non-profit grant applications.

The building could potentially qualify for Historic Tax Credits, New Market Tax Credits and Low Income Housing credits.  The WRHA could assist in exploring or obtaining these tax credit incentives.


The selection process to be carried out as part of the RFI includes the following:

Publication and distribution of the RFI:                                               Week of March 3, 2014

Site tour (mandatory)                                                                          March 20, 2014 (tentative)

Last day to submit questions to the WRHA in writing:                        March 28, 2014

RFI Addendum deadline:                                                                    April 4, 2014

RFI response deadline:                                                                       June 30, 2014

Review period:                                                                                    July 1 – 11, 2014

Notification and scheduling of potential interviews:                            July 14 – 18, 2014

Selection announcement:                                                                   July 25, 2014


Evaluation Process

The intent of the RFI step of this developer selection process is to identify qualified parties interested in implementing the vision and concepts outlined in this RFI.  The selection of a qualified developer will be based generally upon their credentials, relevant experience with similar projects, the financial capacity to implement such a project and the timeline for project completion.

The WRHA staff and other City staff will conduct the review and selection process.  The WRHA reserves the right to request clarification or additional information from individual respondents and to request some or all respondents to make presentations to the WRHA Board.

Evaluation Criteria:

Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria.  This is not an exhaustive list but a general indication of the main benefits desired from this project.

-The extent to which the proposed use maintains the historic use of the building for learning purposes
-The extent to which the proposed use maintains and preserves the historic architecture and design of the building
-Specificity and certainty of funding sources and overall project financing plan
-Demonstrated marketability of the proposed use, particularly if the use is speculative
-Financial resources and stability of entities providing funding for the redevelopment
-Amount of assistance requested from the WRHA or the City
-Timeframe proposed to reach final redevelopment of the property
-Stability and tenure of proposed final owner/occupant(s)
-Qualifications and experience of project team in executing similar projects

WRHA Discretion and Authority (Terms and Conditions)

-The Authority reserves the right to request clarification of information submitted and to request additional information from any respondent.
-The Authority will determine from information submitted in the responses, the most qualified developer or development team to meet the stated goals as evaluated under the criteria set forth herein.
-The issuance of the RFI and receipt and evaluation of submissions do not obligate the Authority to select a developer and/or enter into any agreement.
-Any submission does not constitute business terms under any eventual agreement.
-The Authority will not pay costs incurred in responding to this RFI.
-The Authority may cancel this process without liability at any time prior to the execution of any agreement.
-The Authority has the ability to award the contract to multiple developers, depending on the developer’s expertise or specialization.
-The Authority reserves the right to reject any and all RFI respondents at any time and to terminate any negotiations implied in this RFI or initiated subsequent to it.


Submittal Requirements:  The proposal must include responses to the following:

-Briefly state the specific reasons for the Respondents interest in pursuing the project.
-Description of the proposed project in terms of the entity or entities who would acquire, develop and occupy the property.
-The proposed interior use(s) for the building and how the historic nature of the exterior of the building would be preserved
-The proposed use of the land immediately surrounding the building and proposed site improvements.
-Estimated timeline for completion of the redevelopment project.
-Summary of the financial sources for purchase/redevelopment of the building and site.  A clear understanding of the costs associated with the project must be demonstrated.  Include the names of any equity partners or other parties involved in the purchase/redevelopment of the property and any supporting documentation that would further demonstrate the commitment of those sources.
-Outline any grant funds or foundation/non-project organizations you would solicit for funding.
-Outline any funding or other concessions requested of the WRHA or the City of Wheat Ridge.
-Project lead and team description, if applicable.
-A description of any participating investors/developers, including qualifications of each.  Include any experience with projects specifically related to reuse of historic buildings.
-Examples of other similar projects you or your partners have worked on or projects similar to your proposed use that might show the viability of your proposal.  Illustrate your role in any projects and your ability to successfully complete this type of development.
-A financial feasibility plan for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the site while it is being renovated and when it is fully redeveloped.
-A market analysis, particularly if the future use of the building is speculative, for the proposed future use of the building and site.
-Name, address, phone number and email of respondent.
-At least three references
-Two (2) hard copies and an electronic copy of the informational proposal must be submitted to be considered.

Complete proposals must be received at the following address by 5:00pm June 30, 2014.

City of Wheat Ridge

Wheat Ridge Housing Authority

Attn: Sally Payne

7500 W. 29th Ave.

Wheat Ridge, CO   80033

A site tour is required of all respondents and is tentatively scheduled for March 20, 2014.

Project Contact/Questions:

For further information regarding this RFP and the Fruitdale School, contact Sally Payne, WRHA Deputy Director, at 303-235-2852 or Kenneth Johnstone, Community Development Director at 303 235-2844.

No contact with members of the WRHA Board may be made.  Any contact shall disqualify the applicant.


Supporting Documentation/Materials:

The following documents are included or are available for review from the City to use in the preparation of your proposal:

-Site/parcel maps (included with RFI)
-Architectural renderings (available for review at Wheat Ridge City Hall)
-State Historic Fund – Historic Structure Assessment as prepared by SLATERPAULL Architects (available on City website)
-State Historic Fund – Construction documents (draft, possibly final – available for review at Wheat Ridge City Hall)
-BBG Market Assessment Fruitdale School (available on City website)
-City of Wheat Ridge Comprehensive Plan (available on City website

Fruitdale Subarea Plan (available on City website)

Documents available on City website can be found at:



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