City takes over White Hall, will demolish building
Development group looking for buyer, hoping to keep property on GJ tax rolls
The city of Grand Junction officially took possession of the title to White Hall this week in exchange for agreeing to pay for demolition of the fire-ravaged building.
City Attorney John Shaver said the city decided to pay for the demolition in order to get the cleanup process moving on the downtown hall. He said the city has no plans to hold onto the building. The Downtown Development Authority has agreed to help the city find a buyer for 600 White Ave. by devising redevelopment scenarios for the property.
“It makes sense to get it back into commercial hands and get it back on the tax rolls,” Shaver said.
The historic structure burned Sept. 15. A former church sanctuary in the western half of the building sustained the most damage. The eastern portion of the building may be salvageable, according to Harry Weiss, DDA executive director.
Fire investigators determined the blaze started in the old sanctuary but never identified a cause.
The former owner of the property, Rosemarie Glas of Collbran, told The Daily Sentinel in November she was preparing to demolish the building but never followed through. City officials ultimately condemned the facility.
Weiss said the DDA will work in-house on new scenarios for White Hall that may incorporate some of the western part of the building, including office space and apartments. The building has some water and smoke damage, but having a standing structure on the land may add value for a buyer, Weiss said.
“We’ll study a couple different scenarios and come up with the best set of options,” Weiss said.
A date for demolition has yet to be set. Shaver said the city has a purchasing supervisor working on bids for the project.
“Obviously we’re trying to get it done as quickly as we can,” he said.
Weiss said the DDA will advise the city on ways to keep the cost of demolition down, including the idea for saving the 10,000-square-foot eastern part of White Hall. He said it may take until the end of July or early August to begin demolition because an asbestos abatement design plan must be submitted to and reviewed by the state and a contractor for the demolition will be picked by the city through a competitive bid process.
Shaver and Weiss said the city may grant the White Hall title to the DDA post-demolition because the authority is legally authorized to deal with properties that are in disrepair.
Weiss said he has hopes for future use of the property. A request for suggestions for White Hall posted recently on the DDA’s Facebook page garnered about a dozen suggestions, including a park, a community center and an art gallery.
“The property has a lot of interest,” Weiss said. “Our desire is to have it remain as a taxable property.”