County offers to buy former City Market building

The former city market warehouse at First Street and Colorado Avenue may house consolidated Mesa County departments and offices, a move that would allow the county to save money for capital projects. Those projects include improvements to the county fairgrounds.

Mesa County made an offer Monday to purchase the former City Market headquarters and warehouse in downtown Grand Junction, hoping to consolidate several departments and offices, and free up money for capital projects.

County commissioners Craig Meis and Steve Acquafresca agreed during the board’s regular meeting to offer to buy the 53,000-square-foot building at 105 W. Colorado Ave. for $850,000. Commissioner Janet Rowland was absent from the meeting.

“I believe it’s a worthwhile purchase on the part of the county,” Acquafresca said.

The current owner, GCK LLC, with whom the county has been negotiating the purchase for about a year, has a week to accept or reject the offer.

County officials have been analyzing building and office space the county either owns or leases throughout the Grand Valley that could be liquidated in favor of offering services at a single location. The consolidation should save the county money on rent and allow the county to sell one of its buildings for redevelopment.

As an example, Regional Services Director Tom Fisher said the county is paying roughly $100,000 this year to lease space for the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to register motor vehicles at Mesa Mall.

“That space is going to get more expensive, especially as Cabela’s comes in and the economy starts to come back,” Fisher said.

Should the purchase of the old City Market facility go through, the county would move several offices out of its building at 750 Main St. and sell that property. Fisher said developers have approached the county about buying the building and redeveloping it in light of the improvements the city completed on Main between Seventh and Eighth streets in 2007.

City Market moved out of its 2.3-acre headquarters and warehouse on Colorado Avenue in 2004. The building, which is nearly evenly divided between office and warehouse space, has largely sat empty since then.

GCK purchased the facility a year and a half ago and has donated use of it to various government and community groups, according to Cary Eidsness, managing member of GCK.

When asked whether GCK would accept the county’s purchase offer, Eidsness responded, “To tell you the truth, we haven’t seen anything yet.”

Fisher said the building requires extensive cleanup and remodeling, and costs haven’t yet been determined.

The contract requires GCK to remove the asbestos in the facility and perform environmental site assessments to determine whether anything such as uranium mill tailings or underground hazardous material storage tanks are present and need to be removed.

Should GCK agree to sell the building, the county would close on it April 30. Remodeling could begin this summer and the county could move in during the summer of 2011, Fisher said.

County officials estimate the purchase would provide a return on investment within seven years.

County Administrator Jon Peacock has said the money the county expects to save could be invested in capital projects that might otherwise be delayed because of budget cuts this year.

At the top of the list are improvements to D 1/2 Road between 30 and 32 roads and the county fairgrounds on U.S. Highway 50.


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