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Garfield County to acquire downtown property

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Garfield County commissioners on Monday inked a $2.5 million deal for the county to buy a stretch of property fronting the east side of Colorado Avenue in downtown Glenwood Springs.

The pending purchase involves the Worrell and Durrett law firm building at 201 Eighth St., and two adjoining parcels to the north located across Colorado Avenue from the county courthouse. The property has been owned for several years by law partners Stephen Worrell and Anthony Durrett.

One of the parcels is currently under lease to the Auto Glass Specialists shop. The other is used as private parking for the law offices.



The county could eventually build new office space and a parking structure on the site. For now, though, the existing businesses will stay, Acting Garfield County Manager Andrew Gorgey said.

“The county will continue leasing to the law firm, and they will be allowed to stay under lease for up to two years,” Gorgey said.



The current lease with the auto glass shop will also remain in effect. That business is in the final year of a five-year lease, he said.

“We see this as a positive move for the future of Garfield County,” Garfield County Commission Chairman John Martin said.

“It also allows us to be able to work with the city of Glenwood Springs and the [Downtown Development Authority] to deal with parking and other concerns in the downtown area,” Martin said.

The county commissioners have been in discussions with the DDA to partner in developing pocket parks along that stretch of Colorado Avenue. The county may also help fund the DDA’s plans to beautify some of the downtown alleys.

“Nobody is being displaced, at least for the next couple of years, and we will continue to work with everyone,” Martin said. “We’re just trying to be a good neighbor.”

The move to acquire the Worrell and Durrett property is part of Garfield County government’s ongoing efforts to enhance its future expansion options in downtown Glenwood Springs.

Last year, the county expanded its parking lot at the corner of Eighth and Pitkin, and also worked with the city of Glenwood Springs to expand the public parking lot at the corner of Seventh and Colorado.

The contract price of $2.5 million is somewhat more than a recent appraised value of approximately $1.1 million for the Worrell-Durrett property. That appraisal was paid for by the county.

Gorgey explained in a followup interview in late May that the property has significant value beyond a comparison to recent sales of commercial property, because of its prime downtown location and proximity to other county government buildings.

In addition to parking, county government operations are outgrowing their space in the 11-year-old county administration building and in the courthouse building, Gorgey said.

“We’re already overdue for more office space,” he said. “Our administrative departments are on top of each other, and there’s a constant need for more meeting space. I would not expect this to be the last transaction this year to meet some of these needs.”

By acquiring the Worrell and Durrett property, it puts the entire east side of the 700 block of Colorado Avenue under public ownership, Gorgey noted. About two-thirds of that is now owned by the county, while the city owns the other third.

Last fall, the county also reached a tentative agreement with Valley View Hospital to acquire the property at the southwest corner of Eighth and Colorado, east of the county administration building, which the hospital owns. That site is now home to several other law offices.

That deal would involve a swap for the land underneath the hospital on Blake Avenue, which is now owned by the county.

“We’re just trying to secure future county government needs in that area, and keep our options open,” Commissioner Martin said.

The $2.5 million for the Worrell and Durrett property purchase is to come out of the county’s capital expenditure fund, Gorgey said.

That fund currently stands at about $21.2 million. Closing on the Colorado Avenue purchase is tentatively scheduled for June 1.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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