CPR seeks PUD in Ruby Hill

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CPR, Colorado Public radio, seeks PUD for Ruby Hill site.

CPR has owned 9.5-acre parcel since 2001.

CPR could build its HQ on the site,  which includes a 400-foot radio transmission tower.

CPR

A map showing the Ruby Hill site owned by CPR. CPR is seeking a PUD for the 9.5-acre parcel.

Colorado Public Radio is seeking a rare planned unit development zoning for a 9.5-acre site it owns next to Ruby Hill.

CPR, which has owned the Denver site since 2001, if it gets the PUD, plans to either build its headquarters on the site or sell it, Jenny Gentry, senior vice president of finance and administration for the radio station, said on Monday..

The news and classical music station acquired the site at 1601 W. Jewell Ave. when it bought 1340 AM for $4.2 million. The non-profit station allocated $1.2 million of that cost to the land. The parcel includes a 5,735-square-foot building and a 400-foot tall radio tower.

If CPR build a building on the site, it also would build a new, more aesthetically pleasing 400-foot tower on the property, Gentry said.

Although the entire site is 9.48 acres, the PUD limits future development to 3.08 acres, or 32 percent of the property, according to the application filed with the city’s Community Planning and Development department.

A maximum of 100,000 square feet could be built on the three acres. The maximum height for the buildings would be two stories.

Although the station only submitted the PUD application last Friday, plans have been in the works for a while, Gentry said.

They first talked to Brad Buchanan, executive director of Community Planning, about potential plans for the site, 18 months ago, she said.

Since then, with the help of mediator Steve Charbonneau, CPR has met with neighborhood groups and city officials eight times, according to a letter to Community Planning and Development from Max Wycisk, president of CPR.

Developing the site would provide a number of public benefits to nearby residents, including better pedestrian connectivity, significant setbacks and “natural landscaping to keep a park-like atmosphere,” according to Wycisk.

Parking also would be available to Ruby Hill Park users, he noted.

“As a community resource for Colorado, we wanted to work together with the neighbors and city officials in the creation of a plan so we met with them over the course of a year to get input and have a constructive dialogue,” Gentry said.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the city and the neighborhood working group throughout the process to ensure that a collaborative outcome is achieved as well,” she added.

She said neighbors feel a true stake in any future development, because of CPR’s outreach to them. For example, neighbors wanted parking as far away from houses as possible. CPR was glad to oblige them, she said.

CPR currently owns a 36,000-square-foot building in Centennial. That building was donated to CPR.

The building is pretty packed, Gentry said.

However, a recent renovation of the 2-story building will allow CPR to operate out of it for the next five years or so, she said.

However, it is not very convenient. She said it would make more sense to be closer to downtown.

For example, if a guest conductor for a symphony is in Denver, the conductor may not have time to drive to Centennial to be interviewed in the studio.

“And if reporters on Capitol Hill want to interview legislators, it’s often not convenient for them to make the drive,” Gentry said.

If CPR doesn’t construct a new headquarters on the Ruby Hill site, she said one idea might be to provide studios closer to downtown. CPR could also decide it makes more sense to sell the Ruby Hill site and build a new office on a different site.

The PUD zoning would make the land more attractive to a developer, if CPR were to sell it.

“We’re keeping all of our options open,” Gentry said.

CPR also would need to raise money for a new headquarters, whether it is on the Ruby Hill site or not. About 95 percent of CPR’s funds come from the private support of listeners, businesses and foundations.

The station has hired Starboard Realty Group, headed by Bruce O’Donnell, to advise and represent it.

Community Planning and Development rarely uses PUDs. It prefers to use its form-based zoning designations, rather than customizing zoning with a PUD.

The last PUD approved was about a year ago.

“We don’t consider them unless the case meets “unique and extraordinary” circumstances,” said Alexandra “Alex” Foster, a spokeswoman for CPD.

CPR’s Ruby Hill site meet those circumstances because:

  • There is an existing communications tower on the site.
  • The site is next to a public park.
  • It is on one of the highest elevations points in the city. That makes it a good location for radio broadcasting.

The site has an elevation of about 5,400 feet, according to Google Earth.

The CPD staff will review the application. The staff has two weeks to get back to CPR regarding the completeness of of its application. It may need more information and materials from CPR.

 Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com. DenverRealEstateWatch.com is sponsored by 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.

 

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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