Kaart CEO Aaron Young is getting some help from downtown Grand Junction as he moves forward on projects to develop two lots near Seventh and Main streets.

The Downtown Development Authority board agreed to loan Young $500,000 for his projects at a 2 percent interest rate. The loan can be forgiven if Young hits certain milestones on time.

Young recently purchased the vacant lot at 734 Main St. and plans to build a four-story office building on it. Two of the floors will be occupied by Kaart, a geographic information mapping company that maps road infrastructure for companies such as OpenStreetMap.

Young is also under contract to purchase the lot at 702 Main St. at the northeast corner of Seventh and Main streets, a lot that has sat vacant for years as Grand Junction slowly climbed out of the recession. He is set to close on the property in April.

The board voted 6-0 in support of the loan during a recent meeting after an executive session to finalize the details. Board members Vance Wagner and Dan Meyer were absent, and Doug Simons Jr. recused himself because of his family's past involvement with the property.

"Of all projects that have come across in my time here, this is one where everyone saw the benefit," Downtown Director Brandon Stam said. "It's a catalytic project. This hits a lot of different boxes for us."

Young, most notably, is responsible for the building at 750 Main St., which serves as the headquarters for Kaart and is home to the Factory co-working space and other businesses.

Kaart's business has boomed of late and outgrown its space at 750 Main St. Young is leasing space in the former R-5 school nearby to make room for new employees as the company grows.

The DDA will loan Young the $500,000 out of its operating fund. The agreement stipulates that $200,000 will be forgiven if the lot at 734 Main is 20 percent complete in 18 months.

The remaining $300,000 would be forgiven if the 702 Main project — where Young hopes to construct an eight-story building — is 20 percent finished in the next 36 months.

Young will pay the 2 percent interest until the loans are forgiven. If the project falls through or the benchmarks are not met, the DDA can foreclose on the loan. There are also opportunities to renegotiate the timeline in the agreement.

Stam feels the two projects can serve as a catalyst for the east side of downtown and fill a need for high-end office space in Grand Junction.

It also helps eliminate a blighted area, which is one of the main tenets of the DDA.

"I'm very excited for the economic impact, as is the board," Stam said. "We're fortunate to have a business like (Young's) here. He could locate anywhere."

Bray Real Estate commercial broker Brian Bray, who is the selling agent for the properties, praised the DDA for making the investment to bring more office space to the area.

"The DDA is making this a reality with their investment in this," he said.

Young credited Stam for facilitating the agreement between him and the board of directors.

"I think it says a lot to his leadership style that he was able to get these parties together," Young said of Stam. "He was instrumental in working with the board and the real estate subcommittee."

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