Former county building begins shift to tech hub
Aaron Young raised the Jolly Roger over the onetime Mesa County administration building at 750 Main St. and vowed to make it less a clumsy scow and more a sleek, nimble and collaborative Black Pearl.
Hours previous, Young signed the final papers in which the KAART Group LLC that he owns purchased the building and a nearby parking lot for $900,000.
Any harking back to the bureaucratic background of the building and its future will be gone, and quickly, Young said.
He hopes to reopen the building as soon as August with his offices and those of Launch West CO, which is planning to offer a large co-working area similar to open, collaborative spaces that might be available in Boulder or Denver.
Young also is working to install gigabit fiber, a necessary element to attract tech entrepreneurs to the property and the rest of downtown.
While the fiber piece is important, it’s the downtown atmosphere that drives the project, said Josh Hudnall of Launch West CO.
Once the building is transformed into a large, open airy space conducive to the sharing of ideas, problems, solutions and camaraderie among entrepreneurs, it can become the base of many operations and businesses.
The entrepreneurs can expand their conversations into walks downtown, or during convenient lunches at nearby restaurants.
Not everyone who uses 750 Main will be a resident. Traveling businesspeople — many of them on vacation — will be able to check in for a day’s work and get back to mountain biking, hiking or river rafting once the work is done, said Brian Watson, also of Launch West CO.
Tenants can check in for a few hours, days or months, depending on their needs, Watson said.
Launch West CO has 500 members, so there’s a ready clientele for what 750 Main will offer.
“I think Grand Junction is ready for it,” Hudnall said.
The Jolly Roger was a playful poke at the county, which reserved the right to take a higher offer should one come in before closing, Young said.
The county wasn’t seeing the full, long-term benefit of having a thriving business on Main Street, Young said.
Thus the pirate banner.
“It’s kind of fun to know you put a rebellious flag up there,” he said.
The Colorado state flag, however, went up soon after.