Glenwood enters contract to sell old library
A deal to take the old Glenwood Springs Library building off the city’s hands has a well-established youth service organization in mind as the primary tenant, but certainly wouldn’t preclude a center for senior citizens, says the would-be purchaser.
“The idea of youth and seniors in the same building, I think that could be a great mix,” said former City Councilman Ted Edmonds, who has offered to buy the building for $1 million so that it can become the new home for YouthZone.
Whatever eventually occupies the portion of the approximately 9,000-square-foot, two-level building that YouthZone doesn’t need would not be up to him, though, if the deal works out as planned.
Glenwood City Council on Thursday voted 6-1 to place the vacant building at the northwest corner of Blake and Ninth Street under contract with Edmonds and his wife, Ruth.
“I’m not in it to own the building myself,” Edmonds, also a longtime member of the YouthZone board, told the Post Independent on Friday. “My goal is to figure out a way for them to buy it from me.”
YouthZone will eventually have to move from its current leased building on School Street, where the city will take ownership of the Roaring Fork School District’s Vogelaar Park property as part of a land swap to accommodate the renovated Glenwood Springs Elementary School. The Vogelaar site is included in the city’s confluence-area redevelopment master plan.
YouthZone does need to remain in proximity to the courthouse and City Hall due to its involvement in the juvenile justice system. But it will likely only need about half the space in the old library building, Edmonds said.
The downstairs portion of the building, which is served by an elevator, may be ideal for a senior center, if an organization of some sort can put a plan together, he said.
“As a concept, that makes great sense,” he said.
The city already obtained voter permission to sell or otherwise convey the building, after it reverted to city ownership when the new Glenwood library opened up at Eighth and Cooper four years ago.
Since then, the city has entertained a variety of proposals to use the facility, including a failed purchase deal in which Garfield County was planning to operate a senior center as part of the county’s human services programming.
Most recently, the city heard a proposal from the business-focused GlenX group to convert the building into a co-working space and business incubator. The group has since turned its focus to Carbondale as a start-up location instead.
KEEP THE BUILDING?
A handful of people spoke at the Thursday council meeting in favor of a dedicated senior center somewhere in Glenwood Springs, whether that be at the old library facility or elsewhere.
“The people we have talked to would love that site due to its size, the location and because it has ADA accessibility,” said Chelsea Parkison, who has been leading a survey to gauge interest in a senior center.
“This is a demographic in our community that wants a place to call home, if you will … for social events, cards, bingo, a pool table, creative writing classes, educational programs, exercise classes,” said Parkison, who is the service coordinator for the Manor I and II senior apartment buildings on Blake and Bennett.
“Whether that’s the old library or another location, it is something that people want to see,” she said of a possible effort to form a new nonprofit organization or partner with an existing entity to establish a senior center.
The Western Slope Veterans Coalition, serving Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties, has also been looking to establish a dedicated space in Glenwood Springs for its services. That could fit in with the senior center, Parkison noted.
Others urged the city not to sell the old library building and suggested the city should throw its support behind a senior center and possibly other leased uses in the facility.
“The city was one vote away from losing the hydroelectric building,” Glenwood resident Dean Moffat said of the facility now used by the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts.
“I would caution you not to sell anything, and you have a fine building here,” he said.
City Council is leery of being in the landlord business due in part to the arts center arrangement, which the city is considering terminating due to recent financial issues that surfaced within the organization.
“Council has not been able to do anything with that building, and it’s just sitting there deteriorating,” Councilor Todd Leahy said. “It’s time to activate it, and this is the best opportunity to do that.”
Councilor Jonathan Godes offered that the city’s decision to sell the building doesn’t end the conversation about a senior center or any other potential use for the building.
“That conversation just shifts to a different entity,” he said. “I’d rather the city not be the one to balance all the needs of these different organizations.”
Councilor Shelley Kaup voted against putting the building under contract immediately, preferring to allow more time for public input.
“I’m hesitant to let go of a city property that is in an excellent location downtown and that could serve the needs of some of our nonprofits,” she said. “If we tried to construct a facility like that today, it would cost three times as much as we’re selling it for.”
The Edmonds offer includes a $100,000 earnest money deposit, and a 90-day due diligence period for a building inspection and appraisal. Closing would be in 120 days from the day the contract is signed.
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The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association is working with local businesses and organizations to celebrate the spirit of Strawberry Days with a Berry Special Weekend from June 18-20, according to a news release.