Midland Center off table for Garfield County offices | AspenTimes.com

Midland Center off table for Garfield County offices

John ColsonGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Garfield County will not be buying a vacant retail center at the western edge of town, despite its need for more office space.”The commissioners came to the conclusion that that facility wouldn’t meet their needs,” said county administrator Ed Green on Friday, concerning negotiations to buy part of the Midland Center complex. He confirmed that the county is now looking for expansion possibilities in the center of town.The decision to walk away from the Midland Center property was made in a closed-door session on July 7, at the end of the regular meeting, although a formal vote to abandon negotiations on the 30,000-square-foot building had to be done in open session.Green refused to disclose the price the county was offered for the building, which is mostly completed but has been sitting vacant. It is located near the western end of Midland Avenue.”We were getting it for a price less than the offered price,” Green said. “I think they were asking $10 million for it.”Had the county bought the building, the plan was to undertake a significant remodel of the facility in order to create space for the clerk and recorder, the treasurer and the assessor.In addition, there was discussion of relocating the county commissioners meeting room and offices there. Currently, the offices and meeting room are in the administration building, just across Eighth Street from the Garfield County Courthouse.The county still is seeking new office space in order to accommodate an expansion of the 9th Judicial District’s offices and courtrooms, which now occupy much of the old courthouse.”We’re sitting on top of each other,” said court clerk James Bradford, referring to the crowded conditions in the court clerks’ offices.He recently informed the county commissioners that ultimately the district will need seven courtrooms to accommodate the seven judicial officers now working in Glenwood Springs, as well as the growing needs of the district attorney, probation office and other functions.Currently, he said, there are five courtrooms that “sometimes are all in use,” meaning that he occasionally must put a judge or a magistrate in the jury assembly room for a hearing. He said the district is hoping that the expansion can be arranged within a couple of years.But, said Green, “I don’t think we’re going to do anything right now.”He said the county commissioners have turned their eyes to potential property “in closer proximity to the existing courthouse. The idea, I think, is to keep it in the downtown core.”One possible move, Green confirmed, could be to acquire the property immediately to the east of the administration building, at the corner of Colorado and Eighth Street, which currently houses the law offices of Brown & Wills LLP.The property is owned by Valley View Hospital, Green confirmed, while the county owns some of the land under hospital facilities along Blake Avenue.Green said the county is considering the idea of making a trade – the county’s land beneath the hospital for the corner lot.If that is the direction the county takes, it would then have to either tear down the single-story existing building and build a new one, or build on top of the existing structure to create the needed office space.”It would take probably four years to build a new downtown facility,” Green said.jcolson@postindependent.com

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