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Loretto Denver Center Now Havern School

Posted on June 1, 2018, by Marlene Spero SL

From left, Vicki Schwartz, Pearl McGivney, Havern Head of School Cathy Pasquariello, and Marlene Spero comprise the negotiating team for the sale of the Denver Loretto Center to Havern School.
Photo by Mary Ann McGivern

May 1, the Denver Loretto Center officially became Havern School. Loretto’s 2015 Assembly made the decision to sell the Center to a group that shared Loretto values and would be in sync with the Loretto land ethic. The Havern and Loretto communities are pleased that this piece of green space will remain, and that Havern will continue to meet the learning needs of many special children.

In March 2014, Roybal Corporation Architects conducted a complete facility assessment of the Denver Center to examine the integrity of the building and the various systems within. Although the building is 50 years old, it is in good shape with an excellent maintenance history.

Following the Assembly, Loretto sought an appraisal of the property. Joe Dunn, Trish Dunn’s husband, works in commercial real estate, and he suggested an appraisal firm who conducted what is known as a “highest and best” appraisal with “as-is market value opinions.” Loretto explored three scenarios: continued use of the existing structure, significant renovation (retain and re-use shell) and full redevelopment (land value less demolition costs). This appraisal took place in November 2015.

Havern had been looking to expand, and when they knew Loretto had a mandate to sell, they considered carefully whether and how they could use the building. Loretto also searched out potential buyers. After exploring various alternatives, Havern trustees agreed to ask Loretto what might be the asking price for the building and whether Loretto would consider Havern as a potential buyer.

From left, Marlene Spero and Cathy Pasquariello are all smiles as Cathy hands Marlene the check to symbolize the transfer of the Denver Loretto Center property to Havern School. Loretto is grateful that the school they pioneered 52 years ago will now be able to expand and serve more students.
Photo by Dave Stelloh/Havern School

When the Havern trustees gave their approval to enter into negotiations with Loretto, and Loretto deemed this buyer the most viable, attorneys drafted a purchase and sales agreement, and the process for sale began in earnest. Loretto gathered numerous documents from the past 50 years of operation (part of the due diligence phase) and shared all the financial data for the cost of operating the Center so that there would be no surprises about the cost of maintaining this big building.

Havern set the goal of raising the necessary funds to buy the building and make needed renovations. May 1 Havern paid Loretto the agreed upon price. The capital campaign continues, joined by Lydia Peña, who is identifying local donors who might be interested in funding education for children with learning disabilities.

Loretto and Havern have negotiated for about two-and-a-half years together and with the builders on either side of the property about relocation of gas lines, fencing between the properties, adherence to property lines, solar panel and cell tower leases, etc. Included in the final contract is a provision that if any land is sold within the next 10 years, Loretto will receive a specified portion of the proceeds.

The closing date originally was to be June 1. But Havern must install sprinklers and abate any hazardous materials before the start of the next school year, so the sale closed May 1. Work began that afternoon on the second floor and in the basement where there are no classes.

During the sprinkler installation, the Central Office staff packed up their belongings and moved to temporary office space a short distance away, a little north and east of the current offices.

Loretto received a fair price and is confident the land will be protected and cared for. We also are grateful that the school Loretto pioneered 52 years ago will be able to expand and serve more students in need of Havern’s quality education.

We are grateful for what has been and for what is yet to come.


Marlene Spero SL

Marlene, who in 2019 is celebrating her 60th year as a Sister of Loretto, co-directed and developed a master of arts in teaching program for Webster College in Kansas City, Mo., was a chemistry instructor and program director of humanities and sciences at Loretto Heights College in Denver, and served as bookkeeper and co-coordinator at the Denver Loretto Center and in elected leadership for the Loretto Community. She now resides at Loretto Motherhouse.
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