Lutheran Legacy Campus Master Plan

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The Lutheran Medical Campus is located at 8300 W. 38th Avenue in the heart of Wheat Ridge, and it has operated as a medical use since 1905. A new Lutheran hospital is currently being constructed at the Clear Creek Crossing development, and the hospital’s move presents a rare opportunity to reimagine the future of the Lutheran Legacy Campus.

What's New?

The master planning process for the Lutheran Legacy Campus concluded with a public hearing on October 25, after which City Council approved and adopted the master plan. The document lays out the community’s vision and will serve as a roadmap for development over the next 15 to 20 years or more.

The overarching goal of this project was to invite as many people and perspectives as possible into the process. Thank you to the many hundreds of you who engaged and thousands of you who followed the progress. This was an unprecedented public process including in-person and online engagement options resulting in diverse contributions. The project outreach summary shows that thousands of people were aware of the project and many hundreds actively engaged in the process—thank you!

What is This Plan?

The master plan document reflects the vision of the community and is informed by a market study to ensure that the plan is realistic and has the best possible chance of coming to pass. This document outlines a framework for future development. It is not a site plan, it does not prescribe specific uses, nor is it a zoning document. Rather, it describes what the community likes and dislikes, it articulates goals and desires, and it creates guardrails. Ultimately, it communicates to future owners our expectations, without which the property could be developed in a way that runs counter to community wishes. The master plan has a lot of important detail, but in short it communicates three key expectations:

  1. that we expect a buffer and transition on the perimeter,
  2. that we will allow more flexibility on the interior, and
  3. that future owners need to explore ways to integrate existing assets.

The Lutheran Medical Campus has changed and evolved many times over the last 120 years, and this document recognizes the once-in-a-generation opportunity to consider the next many decades that lie ahead. The Lutheran Legacy Campus Master Plan is considered an amendment to the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Envision Wheat Ridge. It is a guiding document in that it outlines a long-range vision, it will inform future decision on development applications, and it will likely take decades to implement.

What’s Next?

With the plan now adopted, the City expects the property to eventually be listed for sale by SCL Health, and potential buyers will be provided with the master plan so they can understand the community’s expectations.

Once a buyer is identified they will work with the City to propose a zone change for the property. It is through the process of the zone change that the project moves from vision to reality. While the master plan is a guiding document, zoning is the set of rules and regulations that describe what specific uses are permitted and what structures will look like (height, setback, design, et cetera). The zone change process will be a public process and will be subject to review and approval by the Planning Commission and City Council; consistency with the master plan will be among the criteria for review. Following zoning, subdivision and site plan reviews will occur. As part of these entitlement processes, the City will review drainage plans and traffic studies.

Though the timing of next steps will depend largely on the market and a future buyer, the process of sale, entitlements, and construction often takes many years. The new hospital campus at Clear Creek Crossing is not expected to be completed until 2024, and the current Lutheran campus will continue to operate in the meantime.

While the current property owner—SCL Health—seeks a buyer, the City can in the meantime be exploring several next steps that are within its control. This includes three specific actions: exploring the creation of an urban renewal area, exploring the possibility of a charter height amendment particularly for the middle portion of the campus where some buildings already exceed 50 feet, and assessing the City’s facility needs to determine what public or civic uses may be suitable components of a redevelopment.

Since the property is held under private ownership, the City does not have full control over what this land will become, and this master plan will help guide prospective buyers to make the community’s vision a reality.


Plan Documents & Public Process

View and download the master plan and appendices files here. Please note they are large files!

Below are a few links to past meeting summaries to get an idea about what we are hearing from the community-at-large. Please note that this is not intended to reflect all public comment received. The master plan (also linked below) incorporates comments received through many sources including feedback in meetings, from surveys, over the phone, and from email. A full summary of outreach is provided above.

The Lutheran Medical Campus is located at 8300 W. 38th Avenue in the heart of Wheat Ridge, and it has operated as a medical use since 1905. A new Lutheran hospital is currently being constructed at the Clear Creek Crossing development, and the hospital’s move presents a rare opportunity to reimagine the future of the Lutheran Legacy Campus.

What's New?

The master planning process for the Lutheran Legacy Campus concluded with a public hearing on October 25, after which City Council approved and adopted the master plan. The document lays out the community’s vision and will serve as a roadmap for development over the next 15 to 20 years or more.

The overarching goal of this project was to invite as many people and perspectives as possible into the process. Thank you to the many hundreds of you who engaged and thousands of you who followed the progress. This was an unprecedented public process including in-person and online engagement options resulting in diverse contributions. The project outreach summary shows that thousands of people were aware of the project and many hundreds actively engaged in the process—thank you!

What is This Plan?

The master plan document reflects the vision of the community and is informed by a market study to ensure that the plan is realistic and has the best possible chance of coming to pass. This document outlines a framework for future development. It is not a site plan, it does not prescribe specific uses, nor is it a zoning document. Rather, it describes what the community likes and dislikes, it articulates goals and desires, and it creates guardrails. Ultimately, it communicates to future owners our expectations, without which the property could be developed in a way that runs counter to community wishes. The master plan has a lot of important detail, but in short it communicates three key expectations:

  1. that we expect a buffer and transition on the perimeter,
  2. that we will allow more flexibility on the interior, and
  3. that future owners need to explore ways to integrate existing assets.

The Lutheran Medical Campus has changed and evolved many times over the last 120 years, and this document recognizes the once-in-a-generation opportunity to consider the next many decades that lie ahead. The Lutheran Legacy Campus Master Plan is considered an amendment to the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Envision Wheat Ridge. It is a guiding document in that it outlines a long-range vision, it will inform future decision on development applications, and it will likely take decades to implement.

What’s Next?

With the plan now adopted, the City expects the property to eventually be listed for sale by SCL Health, and potential buyers will be provided with the master plan so they can understand the community’s expectations.

Once a buyer is identified they will work with the City to propose a zone change for the property. It is through the process of the zone change that the project moves from vision to reality. While the master plan is a guiding document, zoning is the set of rules and regulations that describe what specific uses are permitted and what structures will look like (height, setback, design, et cetera). The zone change process will be a public process and will be subject to review and approval by the Planning Commission and City Council; consistency with the master plan will be among the criteria for review. Following zoning, subdivision and site plan reviews will occur. As part of these entitlement processes, the City will review drainage plans and traffic studies.

Though the timing of next steps will depend largely on the market and a future buyer, the process of sale, entitlements, and construction often takes many years. The new hospital campus at Clear Creek Crossing is not expected to be completed until 2024, and the current Lutheran campus will continue to operate in the meantime.

While the current property owner—SCL Health—seeks a buyer, the City can in the meantime be exploring several next steps that are within its control. This includes three specific actions: exploring the creation of an urban renewal area, exploring the possibility of a charter height amendment particularly for the middle portion of the campus where some buildings already exceed 50 feet, and assessing the City’s facility needs to determine what public or civic uses may be suitable components of a redevelopment.

Since the property is held under private ownership, the City does not have full control over what this land will become, and this master plan will help guide prospective buyers to make the community’s vision a reality.


Plan Documents & Public Process

View and download the master plan and appendices files here. Please note they are large files!

Below are a few links to past meeting summaries to get an idea about what we are hearing from the community-at-large. Please note that this is not intended to reflect all public comment received. The master plan (also linked below) incorporates comments received through many sources including feedback in meetings, from surveys, over the phone, and from email. A full summary of outreach is provided above.

  • About

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    Background

    The Lutheran Medical Center campus (aka the "Lutheran legacy campus") is located at 8300 W. 38th Avenue and has been part of the SCL Health network since 2010. In 2018, SCL Health purchased a 26-acre parcel at Clear Creek Crossing west of I-70 at 40th Avenue. Clear Creek Crossing presents a rare opportunity for the Wheat Ridge community to think about the future of the Lutheran legacy campus in the heart of the City.

    Lutheran History

    The current Lutheran legacy campus is centrally located in Wheat Ridge just west of Wadsworth, extending between 32nd Avenue and 38th Avenue. The campus is about 100 acres in size. Lutheran is the City's largest employer.

    Medical uses on the property significantly pre-date the City. The site began as the Evangelical Lutheran Sanitarium in 1905, with numerous tents erected for the treatment of tuberculosis patients. In 1961, Lutheran Hospital opened as a non-profit general medical facility. In the 1970s, the site became known as Lutheran Medical Center, and services continued to expand with construction of new buildings, including the six-story tower in 1973. In 1998, Lutheran became part of Exempla Healthcare; and in 2010, Exempla joined the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, which became SCL Health in 2014.

    The site is currently zoned as a Planned Hospital District (PHD), and permitted uses include only hospitals, hospice care, and accessory uses customarily associated with a medical campus. The City’s comprehensive plan, Envision Wheat Ridge, designates the campus as a public land use noting that public uses, including the hospital, will “remain as community and neighborhood anchors.” The plan also designates the site for primary employment. These designations reflect the well-established hospital use, and the comprehensive plan does not consider other potential land uses for the site. It's through a master planning process, however, that possible uses for the future can be updated and expanded.

  • FAQs

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    How can I get involved?

    The master planning process relies heavily on public input to inform the vision for the site. Public engagement will include a variety of in-person and virtual events. Register and subscribe on What’s Up Wheat Ridge to stay informed. Refer to the "Public Process" to see what events are upcoming


    Why should I get involved?

    We often see the public speaking up during zone changes or site planning, but by that point, approvals are based on their compliance with an adopted plan. That’s why it’s important that you be involved in the creation of the adopted plan. This chart shows how the master plan relates to development approvals, and why it’s important to get involved now.


    What is a master plan?

    A master plan is a long-range planning document that articulates a vision for a specific area. Unlike the City's comprehensive plan which outlines a vision for the entire City, a master plan describes more specific goals for the land use, design and transportation for a specific area. A master plan is sometimes called a subarea plan, small area plan, or station area plan.

    Refer to the process information handout which explains how a master plan fits into the processes of planning and development and how it relates to the more general comprehensive plan and more specific development approvals.

    Right now, the City’s guiding documents only allow for a hospital and medical campus on the Lutheran property. This is our chance, as a community, to envision what the site could be if it were to be redeveloped. Change will not happen tomorrow – this is a twenty-year plan that will be delivered over a long period of time—and your voice is important to this process.


    Is this master planning effort being initiated by the City or SCL Health?

    Both. The City and SCL Health are partnering on this effort to ensure input from the land owner and the community, with the consultant (MIG, Inc) leading us all through the planning process. SCL Health purchased land at Clear Creek Crossing, and is seeking development approvals for a medical campus there. This creates an opportunity for change at Lutheran, and the City and SCL Health want to define to vision for the campus with community input and based on the realities of what the market and infrastructure can support.


    Does the master plan change the zoning of the property?

    No. A master plan is a vision document that helps guide future entitlements. While it does set the stage for development, it does not address specifics of exactly what can be developed. Zoning and site development will be potential next steps after the master plan and subject to future public processes.


    Is Lutheran moving?

    Yes. The new Lutheran Medical Center is being constructed at the Clear Creek Crossing development on approximately 28 acres at I-70 and 40th Avenue. SCL Health continues to work closely with the City of Wheat Ridge to seek all necessary approvals for the replacement medical campus at that location. Lutheran Medical Center will stop acute hospital operations at its current site once the replacement facility is open (estimated to be late 2024). SCL Health plans to maintain its hospice program at the existing campus, and the remainder of the property will likely be sold to a developer (or multiple developers) in the future. Given the size of the existing campus (approximately 100 acres) and the fact that it currently allows for medical use only, SCL has partnered with the City of Wheat Ridge to ensure a well-defined, coordinated redevelopment strategy through this master plan process. The master plan will help establish a long-range vision for the site, and it will guide the reuse of the property.


    What will be developed at the Lutheran legacy campus?

    This is the reason for the master plan! There are no development plans for the campus, and the master plan is meant to inform the potential for future development or redevelopment. Some things may change, but some things will stay the same. The master plan process will work to identify and, if possible, retain key cultural and historic resources on the existing campus. Some of the uses that are on the existing site, may remain, and continue to serve the community in their current locations.


    How specific is a master plan?

    A master plan does not identify specific users or site plans. It needs to communicate the overall vision and goals, but leave some flexibility for future developers. The master plan will be focused on 1) confirming a viable vision, one that respects the community’s concerns and SCL Health’s responsibilities to their patients and staff, and 2) helping to set up the regulations and policies that will ensure the quality of and contribution to the addition to our community to come.


    Who will be developing the site?

    While SCL Health owns a majority of the site and it lies within the City of Wheat Ridge, neither SCL Health nor the City of Wheat Ridge will deliver change – the future of this site will delivered by a partnership (or partnerships) with the development community.


    What is happening to the blue house and chapel?

    The blue house and chapel are located on the Lutheran campus close to 38th Avenue. Built in 1902, the Blue House was one of the original structures on the Lutheran property and housed a reception area, the Superintendent’s office, and eight beds on the second floor for critically ill patients. The Blue House was converted into a dormitory for nurses following the 1920 expansion, and in later years, was used as a thrift shop and as a tearoom. The structures are privately owned by SCL Health and are not currently on any historical registries. Because of their conditions, they are not being used today.

    The master plan is a high-level document and is not going to specify the disposition or future use of any specific buildings on the site, including the blue house and chapel. There are many options that can be explored, and while the master plan may outline those options, it's atypical for any specific action to take place during a master planning process. Due to their current conditions, a prospective buyer or developer would need to explore if or how the structures can be integrated into the project as a whole after the master planning process ends.

Page last updated: 04 January 2022, 07:49