DENVER (CBS4) – Plans to renovate the old Loretto Heights Campus continue to advance. The 72-acre spot in southwest Denver is 130 years old.

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It was a girls’ boarding school and college campus. Last summer it was sold, and now the plan is to work with the community to redevelop it.

One woman, with strong ties to the campus, is closely following what’s next.

“In the late 1880s, three of our sisters who were teaching at Saint Mary’s Academy at 15th and California journeyed out here to Sheridan Hill and thought, ‘Yes this is the place for the new academy,’” Sister Mary Nelle Gage said on Saturday.

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Loretto Heights in southwest Denver, filled with peace and history, now sits abandoned. The stone buildings built by pioneers are boarded up and forgotten. Losing the history of this place and the people who lived here is what makes sister Mary Nelle Gage worried.

“Well, concerned… and then some nights… early mornings… worried,” she said.

It’s special to her because she is an alumnus of Loretto Heights Academy. She wants it to continue to stand above Colorado’s plains.

When she heard Westside Investment Partners was planning on renovating the site and wanted community feedback she spoke up.

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“We need to pay attention to preservation,” she said.

Saturday was the second in a series of meetings between the City of Denver, developers and the community to discuss the future of Loretto Heights. The plan is to make the property open to the public with commerce and open space, but to also build housing.

Councilman Kevin Flynn of District 2 where the property is located says, “This has the potential to be southwest Denver’s family room.”

The community gathered to look at the plans and give their feedback. Many of them liked the ideas, but some, like Sister Mary Nelle Gage, were worried about preserving the buildings and cemetery on the property.

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“People are concerned about the legacy of this place,” she said.

Now with plenty of input, the developers will rework their plans. Just like any good woman of the cloth, Sister Mary Nelle Gage will be watching very closely to make sure that legacy is preserved.

“Oh indeed. Oh that’s our intent.”

Michael Abeyta

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