MONTROSE—(March 18, 2014) In the end, it came down to homework. When Colorado Mesa University officials reviewed their vision for the Montrose Campus, they first asked a simple question.
“How do we create something that will continue to grow Montrose, and bring business here?” was the first query, noted CMU President Tim Foster, followed by, “Where and how do we best accomplish the latter, without frustrating the former?”
It was by doing what hardworking students have always done—research–that they were able to answer these questions, Foster said.
“We worked hard, and we walked the neighborhood,” Foster said. “We sat down with the community; since CMU has been in Montrose, our goal has been to serve. Growing and establishing a campus is positive for any community.”
Keeping the campus Downtown was also a priority, he said. Though other locations like Sunset Mesa were considered, officials felt that the heart of town was where the campus belonged.
“Location matters,” Foster said. “Think of a campus as a village within a community. Keeping it Downtown made a lot of sense. We have a foothold, and the library has said that we can be here.”
When Montrose Architect Patrik Davis agreed to sell his adjacent building (located at 245 South Cascade) to CMU, another question arose.
“So where do we go from here?” Foster said. “We could have two buildings that are separate, or we could create more of a campus feeling with a quad, a critical first step toward building that intangible feeling of a campus.”
Following the acquisition of the 3200-square-foot, two-story building, the university was able to work with the City of Montrose, which agreed to vacate a half block right-of-way on South Cascade and committed $50,000 toward the purchase price of the building in 2013.
According to a news release issued by CMU, about one-third of the building is now occupied by Edward D. Jones & Co., and will continue to be. The rest of the building will be used for student support services such as a student lounge that will also serve as an area for tutoring, a room for student clubs and organizations to gather, and a second meeting room. There will also be offices for student advising, career services, testing and financial aid.
A news release issued by the City of Montrose notes that while the majority of project funding comes from CMU, both City of Montrose and Montrose County Public Works Departments have collaborated to provide in-kind labor and materials assistance.
Construction of the CMU quad at South Third and Cascade began on March 3 and is now well underway, with the ultimate goal an attractive area where pedestrians can safely move between campus buildings. Though neighboring businesses are impacted by the construction, most see it is a positive development, Foster said.
“Nobody goes from 0 to 60 in one fell swoop,” Foster said. “We worked hard; we knocked on doors, and we answered questions. We did lots of legwork. If people understand the how and the why, we can all move in the same direction. We are building our campus in a small way; we will now have a classroom building and a student center.”
Collaboration among local entities has been essential, he said.
“The County Commissioners really did their homework, and City Council stepped up to the plate,” he said. “We keep working with our advisory group.”
Though South Cascade between Third Street and the alley to the north is now closed and will remain so, CMU has fielded few complaints. Construction of the quad is expected to be complete in mid-July.
“We will continue to grow our Montrose Campus incrementally, in small steps,” Foster said. “We have a very good advisory committee. On the one hand, growth is complex. On the other hand, it’s really pretty simple.
“We are going where our community takes us.”