A proposed land swap that would have moved Jeffco’s Community Corrections services from the current location in Lakewood to a new home in unincorporated Jeffco has been abandoned.
The deal would have involved swapping the Community Corrections headquarters at Kendall Street between 16th and 17th avenues, commonly referred to as the New York Building, and 4 acres at West Colfax Avenue and Wild Acres Road in unincorporated Jeffco next to Lakewood.
The Jeffco county commissioners unanimously decided to suspend the proposed deal on July 23 because of what Commissioner Don Rosier said were concerns from neighbors of the proposed new location.
“We looked at about 30 sites, and this was the best site we looked at,” Rosier said. “If it’s not the right site because of neighborhood concerns, because of business concerns, then it just means now we’ll stay where we’re at or we’ll look for more sites.”
Community Corrections takes some offenders and parolees and monitors them while they transition back into society. The center provides an alternative to prison for certain inmates who pass a three-level screening process before being admitted into the program.
A new home for Community Corrections has been on the county’s radar for several years. The county had previously budgeted $7.6 million from available certificates of participation funds for the project, of which $7.3 million remains.
Rosier cited a history of responsible stewardship by the center in Lakewood and said no issues had been reported involving residents in the program and the surrounding neighborhood. But he added that municipalities in the county have not been receptive to having the Community Corrections facility within their city limits.
“For the last year and a half, two years we’ve been actively looking for sites because the city of Lakewood has told us very explicitly they don’t want Community Corrections at the location where it’s at. In fact, they have come out and said they want to evict us, they want to pull the permit, they won’t allow us to do the improvements we want to do there,” Rosier said. “Unfortunately, when we went out to all of Jefferson County, we talked to all the cities, we went everywhere, but none of the cities that we spoke to was amenable to put Community Corrections within their municipal boundaries.”
A Lakewood official confirmed the city prefers that the existing Community Corrections center be moved.
Lakewood Deputy City Manager Nanette Neelan said private investors, anticipating the move, have begun investing in property around the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design campus. The campus is next to the current Community Corrections home.
“They’re (RMCAD) really growing. From some of the early cues from the county, there has been moves made to integrate (the New York Building) back into the plan,” Neelan said. “We’ve watched the private sector elated that last building can come back as part of the original campus.”
Colorado Investment and Development Co. would have purchased the land on Colfax, built a new home for Community Corrections, and then exchanged the property and building with Jeffco for the New York Building.
The new Community Corrections building and property would have cost about $12.4 million, with the county getting $5 million for the New York Building, bringing the cost of the new center to $7.4 million.
Rosier said the commissioners plan to discuss the county’s next step during their next study session.
Contact Ramsey Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.