DENVER-Today, construction begins on an innovative public-private partnership that is receiving national interest.

Nina Rees, Deputy Under Secretary for Innovation and Improvement for the U.S. Department of Education will be the keynote speaker for a $20 million school and recreation center in Green Valley Ranch in northeast Denver.

Green Valley is the fastest growing housing community in the city limits. The City of Denver, the Parks Department, the Denver Public School District and Oakwood Homes, the developer of Green Valley Ranch, have all agreed to share the building costs and ultimately share the completed facilities in order to better serve students and the neighborhood residents.

“In about eight months, we have formed a partnership among five entities–both public and private,” says Kelly Leid, Oakwood’s Manager of Metropolitan Districts. “We have hired two architects, we have gone through the site planning process in the city, we’ve come to agreement on some complex contractual issues, we’ve selected a contractor and we’re breaking ground on a master plan set of projects which includes the school and rec center.”

The rec center is scheduled to cost $6.15 million, a k-8 school will cost $13.576 million and a plaza, amphitheater and lake will cost $500,000.

The school district won’t have to build an 8,000-sf gym for the school, as its students will use the rec center as a gym, saving $1 million. Also, the city’s park department will save more than $100,00 because it will not have to build additional playgrounds, and the school will save money by not paying for athlete fields.

Green Valley residents and students will share the recreation center, gymnasium, playing fields and a future library. It is believed to be the largest venture of its kind in the country.

In addition to Rees, Mayor-elect John Hickenlooper and Jerry Wargow, superintendent of Denver Public Schools, are attending the 11:00 a.m. ceremony.

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