Financing for a Downtown 'White Elephant" | Challenge Studio Spotlight

04/17/2017 1:13 PM | Izabela Petrykowska

The City of Brush is fortunate in having several historic structures that add to the charm and unique design quality of the city. The city has provided mechanisms for revitalizing these buildings that have the most important historic qualities. Rural schools are often the most beautiful and loved buildings in the historic downtown area. Once the district moves to a new building, these buildings often fall to disrepair and require the most complex partnerships and funding strategies to save them. 

Two of the growing needs in Brush include housing and daycare needs. Nearly 96% of all residential units within the city are occupied, which reflects a very low vacancy rate. In addition, as a result of a community survey conducted by the Planning Commission, the first most important issue facing Brush in the next five years was said to be Child Care/Early Learning services at 82%. To address these future needs, how can a small community with strong partners turn this challenge to meet the needs for daycare and housing?

 Brush's Central Platoon School

We talked to Melody Christensen, the Executive Director at the  Brush Area Chamber of Commerce about the redevelopment of  the Central Platoon School.

DCI: How long has the Central Platoon School been vacant? 

MC: It has been sitting empty for about 20 years and is privately owned.  It is approximately 50,000 s.f. with beautiful architecture., built in 1928.  Currently there are many windows that are broken out and it has had infestation of pigeons and small rodents.  I believe the original intent of the owner was to make sure it was not torn down and he bought it as an investment property. When the market dropped in the late 2000's, his interest in the building also dropped.

Are there estimates on what it will take to rehabilitate the building?

We have recently completed a Historic Structure Assessment and Feasibility Study with the State Historical Society. One end of the building has a gymnasium and the other end is an auditorium and cafeteria.  The center 2-story portion of the building is all classrooms.  

The study came back with a total cost of $7.5 million.  Even if we could figure out a way to rehabilitate the building in stages, cost break down with the gymnasium and the 2 story center portion is $5,498,000, while the auditorium is $981,000, and the cafeteria $1,118,000. We would love to have help with the feasibility part of the building, something that would at least break even. 

What uses might be possible? 

What we keep hearing is the need for more housing and daycare facilities, which without those two, future residents find it hard to come here to work. Some other suggestions from the community were a hotel, restaurants, bars, arts and culture center, recreational space, health related services, and public entity offices, or a mix of those suggestions.

Be IN THE GAME. Join DCI at the Vibrant Downtowns: IN THE GAME Conference on May 2-5 in Breckenridge Colorado as we explore solve this challenge and 10 others that Colorado Communities are facing.

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