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November 18, 2009
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Carbondale nonprofit center moves closer to capital goal

CARBONDALE, Colorado - Carbondale's Third Street Center is well on its way toward a nearly $1.9 million capital campaign goal, as work continues to convert the former school building into an energy-efficient home to more than two dozen nonprofit organizations.

To date, the project has received gifts and pledges totaling $1.25 million, including several government grants and a $100,000 challenge grant from the Gates Family Foundation, plus a variety of other foundation and individual grants.

The final phase of construction began this week, with a projected completion date of next May. The public is invited to an informal open house and groundbreaking celebration on Dec. 3 at 4:30 p.m.

The 45,100-square-foot former Carbondale Elementary School building will eventually become home to between 20 and 30 organizations that are now scattered throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, according to Colin Laird, interim executive director for the Carbondale Community Nonprofit Center, the organization formed to head up the project.

"Now that we're starting the final phase of construction, we want to remind people that we're still working toward our fundraising goal, which we hope to meet by next summer," Laird said Tuesday.

About half of the center's space has already been leased to tenants, including Mountain Valley Developmental Services, Solar Energy International, Sustainability Center of the Rockies, the Wilderness Workshop, and YouthZone.

Already operating out of a portion of the building that is complete is the Senior Matters center, which offers a variety of programs and a meeting place for local senior citizens.

The Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities (CCAH) plans to coordinate a variety of gallery shows, performances and community gatherings in the center's "Round Room."

"We are excited about the spirit and energy that will be created by all of the tenants," said CCAH Executive Director Ro Mead. "I believe the entire community will reap the benefits of the Third Street Center."

Government grants to help complete the project include $500,000 from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, $135,000 from Garfield County and $100,000 from the town of Carbondale.

Among the foundation donors is the Aspen Community Foundation, which also plans to establish a downvalley office at the Third Street Center.

"The Third Street Center is designed to foster a synergistic exchange of ideas and resources among nonprofits that in turn supports programs of lasting relevance and value for our community," said Tamara Tormohlen, the foundation's executive director. "This made the center an outstanding fit from a funding standpoint."

Other funding entities included the Environment Foundation, the El Pomar Foundation and The Manaus Fund, which provided predevelopment funding. Alpine Bank also provided a construction loan and mortgage secured by bank qualified tax-exempt bonds.

The project came about last fall when a land swap between the town and the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 put the school property in the town's hands. The town subsequently agreed to a renewable 49-year lease for the Third Street Center.

The idea was to provide long-term, affordable rental space for nonprofit organizations, artists and small businesses under one roof with shared spaces, such as a conference room and break area.

The remodeled building also has a variety of green design features, including a rooftop solar photovoltaic electric system.

Laird said another $300,000 in grant proposals for the project are still pending.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Nov 18, 2009 01:15AM Published Nov 18, 2009 01:14AM Copyright 2009 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.