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Planning for Glenwood Springs library is moving forward

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – After several months of negotiations, the four entities working to develop a new downtown Glenwood Springs library and other public facilities are ready to move to the design phase.

The Garfield County Public Library District and Colorado Mountain College boards each approved resolutions in mid-September committing to take the next step to jointly develop the city-owned site at the southwest corner of Eighth Street and Cooper Avenue in downtown Glenwood Springs.

The project would include a new 14,000-square-foot public library on the main floor, replacing the existing library at Ninth and Blake.



In addition, underground parking would be built for employees in CMC’s adjacent administrative building.

A second floor space above the library would be reserved for future use by CMC. A public plaza would also be developed immediately to the south of the library building.



Earlier this year, CMC purchased the building at 802 Grand Ave. that houses U.S. Bank’s downtown location, for $3.8 million.

The second and third stories of that building are currently being renovated to house the college’s administrative offices, which will move from the current central services building at Ninth and Grand.

The city of Glenwood Springs, around the same time, purchased the parking lot property in the 800 block of Cooper Avenue behind CMC’s new building, for $1.6 million. Both properties had previously been owned by the same group of private investors.

The purchases paved the way for the city, the library district, CMC and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to work toward a development agreement.

Serving as the project’s centerpiece would be the new library, which the city, the DDA and the library district have all indicated they would prefer to keep downtown if possible.

“We have all worked together to find a solution where the city would ultimately deed the property to library district,” said Amelia Shelley, executive director for the library district.

“It’s great that everyone involved is finally getting to this point, and it’s especially crucial for us,” Shelley said.

The clock is ticking on a two-year deadline for the library district to act on its financing arrangement to build a new $6 million library facility in Glenwood Springs. The new library is one of several facility projects under way or already completed within the six-branch library district, which stretches from Carbondale to Parachute.

For the city’s part, a proposed ordinance is before city council at its Thursday meeting this week that would commit the city to fund its portion of the design costs.

The ordinance would also allow the city to transfer the property to the library district, in exchange for the existing library building at Ninth and Blake. The city already owns the land beneath that building.

“The city never saw itself as holding onto this property,” Glenwood Springs City Manager Jeff Hecksel said of the Eighth and Cooper site. “This will allow the city to convey that property to the library as we had envisioned.”

Architectural design costs will be about $300,000, Hecksel said. The city and the DDA would each cover $50,000 under the agreement, while CMC and the library district would be responsible for $100,000 each.

“I think everyone believes at this point that we have a project,” Hecksel said. “But there are a lot of details still to be worked out.”

The cost for the underground parking lot, estimated at $3.3 million, is also more than originally anticipated, he said.

CMC would cover that cost, along with the estimated $2 million to build the second story onto the library building. That space could be used for classroom or office space, depending on future needs, CMC spokeswoman Debra Crawford said.

“I think we have great arrangement here,” she said. “We’re very excited to be working through these last details, and it’s something that’s going to help make downtown Glenwood Springs very dynamic.”

Because the underground parking would be reserved for CMC, redevelopment of the site would also need to include on-street parking along Eighth and Cooper.

As the development concept has been refined, the city is also now looking at developing additional parking one block to the south, at the existing city-owned lot at Ninth and Cooper, Hecksel said.

That would likely entail a future parking structure of some sort, he said.

In the meantime, an estimated 29 new additional street parking spaces along Cooper and Eighth will have to suffice.

Restriping of the city parking lot next to the firehouse across the street could also result in additional spaces, the library district’s Shelley said.

“The extra street parking will actually greatly enhance our parking situation compared to what we have now,” she said. “It’s a trade-off we think is worthwhile to be able to stay downtown.”

Shelley said the library district plans to have another public meeting between now and mid-November to allow more input as it works on the design details for the new library.

The library district and CMC are working with Denver architect Dennis Humphries, who specializes in library facilities, to design the shared building.

CMC is planning to be moved into its new administrative offices by the end of the year. The building at Ninth and Grand is currently on the market to be sold.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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