Denver is poised to buy land for a long-awaited Westwood rec center

The rec center has been in the works for more than a decade.

A convenience store sits at the parcel at 4320 Morrison Rd. on Thursday, June 13, in Denver's Westwood neighborhood. (Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite)

A convenience store sits at the parcel at 4320 Morrison Rd. on Thursday, June 13, in Denver's Westwood neighborhood. (Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Updates with City Council approving purchase of Morrison Road site.

The city is eyeing two parcels in Westwood as a potential site for a neighborhood recreation center.

A joint press release from Denver Parks and Recreation and Elevate Denver, the bonding program that will pay for the new rec center, said the city is moving forward with the proposed purchases of the two parcels at 4320 Morrison Rd. and at 753 S. Raleigh St. They total about 126,000 square feet, and are next door and across the street from newly built apartment buildings.

At a July 8 City Council meeting, members voted 13-0 to approve the $4 million purchase of the Morrison Road plot.

The location sits in a “historic and defining corridor” in the neighborhood, the release says. It’s a site close to transit stops with visible access points and parking options for cars and bikes.

The city wants to pay $5.4 million for the parcels. District Councilman Paul López, who will be serving as the city’s next clerk and recorder, has been working on bringing a rec center to that neighborhood since he was first elected in 2007.

López said in the release it was a top priority in one of the city’s largest underserved areas.

“Now, our collective persistence has prevailed,” López said in the statement. “Westwood will finally have a recreation center symbolizing what a community can accomplish when they work together to achieve a common goal.”

The money for the acquisition comes from the $37.5 million Elevate Denver Bond and is designated for land acquisitions, design and construction of the rec center. The entire program bonded $937 million over 10 years.

Morrison Road, June 13, 2019. (Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite)

Morrison Road, June 13, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Morrison Road, June 13, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Morrison Road, June 13, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

“We are proud to make a significant investment in the health and wellness of the Westwood community,” Parks and Recreation Executive Director Happy Haynes said in the release. “This facility will provide greatly needed recreation opportunities to the neighborhood and will be a community hub in supporting active, healthy lifestyles.”

Mayor Michael Hancock said in the release that every city resident “deserves to have the same access to the services that support equity in their neighborhoods and for our families.”

The proposed sale must go through the City Council process. The council’s Finance and Governance Committee is scheduled to hear the proposal on June 18. After the land is acquired, the design phase of the project will begin, according to the release.

The rec center is expected to include a gym including fitness areas for weight training and cardio activities, as well as community spaces.

The city will host public meetings to gather community input on its design.

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