By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE-It started with an idea—an expanded urban campus in the heart of Montrose. To bring that idea to fruition took a cooperative community effort, and about nine months. When Community Options began to explore the possibility of selling the non-profit’s downtown facility (located at South Third Street and Cascade Avenue) to Colorado Mesa University (CMU), the project involved not only the potential buyer, but the City of Montrose and Montrose County as well, said Montrose Realtor David Kienholz of The C.O.R.E. Team at Keller Williams.

“Community Options has had a facility Downtown for 25 years,” Kienholz said. “They are one of the largest employers in the county, and they have several facilities, as well as programs and group homes for people with developmental disabilities. So when I was approached by Community Options Director Tom Turner in July of last year that was the start of it.”

Kienholz approached Colorado Mesa University’s Derek Wagner about purchasing the Community Options building, which rests on eight city lots. With more than 12,000 square feet in the main structure, high ceilings and a 1,600 square foot maintenance building to go with, the University was willing to consider the acquisition, Kienholz said.

Community Options was able to find a new location—the former Vista Charter School Building at North Park and the San Juan Bypass. And though the Community Options building appraised at $940,000, the organization was willing to part with it for $822,500, “in the spirit of cooperation,” according to Kienholz. In return, Community Options is able to remain in place for six months while their new location is updated.

“This was a win-win for everyone,” Kienholz said. “Everybody will benefit from an expanded educational facility here; this is a good story of how people can work together, be forward thinking and further our community.”

The spirit of community cooperation that closed the deal has also reflected CMU’s recent experience in Montrose, University president Tim Foster said.

“Our experience there recently has been very partnership-oriented,” Foster said. “Our willingness to go down this road is a direct result of our relationships with entities in Montrose-we have worked hand in glove with the City, with the County, and the school district.

“We are now analyzing the space and how best to fully utilize it in partnership with the school district,” he said. “This definitely expands our footprint in Montrose; the Downtown Development Authority sees us as an anchor tenant, and we see this as a way to offer better educational opportunities as efficiently as we can as a public entity.”