Library expansion a nod to business

SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL—An artist’s rendering shows what the Mesa County Libraries central branch will look like next year after the building is renovated and expanded. A new feature will be a glassed-in area, right, which will face Grand Avenue in downtown Grand Junction

The new downtown Grand Junction library will be built for readers and for business.

The library, which is to be expanded from 35,000 square feet to 45,000 square feet as part of a project that will get under way this year, will be geared to helping businesses sprout and grow, Lois Becker, development director for the Mesa County Public Library District, said Tuesday.

Many libraries prohibit business activity, Becker said, but that won’t be the case when the refurbished and expanded central library at 530 Grand Ave. opens next spring.

“It’s business that provides the bulk of the property tax for library services” and the library will have a business center upstairs, Becker said.

Library Director Eve Tallman, Becker and others discussed the expansion with The Daily Sentinel editorial board.

The bulk of the building, which originally was a Safeway grocery store, will stay intact, said Dave Detwiler, project manager, noting that the main walls and floors are solid.

Still, Tallman said, “Everything you see is going to feel new.”

The expansion will feature a glassed-in area that will extend the building to the south, toward Grand Avenue, marking the most noticeable new feature.

Inside, however, there will be several meeting and study rooms for small groups, as well as a multipurpose room that will be used for community meetings, presentations and other activities, such as reading programs for children.

Voters rejected proposals in 2003 and 2004 to expand the central library to 75,000 square feet. The library board soon after set aside money to expand the main branch, which gets 65 percent of the district’s library visits, Tallman said.

The library district is working on a capital campaign aimed at collecting $1.2 million for the project. Officials hope they also get money for the next project they want: a branch in the northwest portion of Grand Junction.

During construction this year, the library will operate out of the old Ashley Furniture store, 655 N. First St.


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