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Sale of vacant grocery is back on track

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The acquisition of the old City Market/Chaco building by Delta County Joint School District #50 has been resurrected with the commitment of additional cash from Delta-Montrose Technical College.

Last week, the school board approved allocating $150,000 in DMTC reserve funds for the purchase of the long-vacant building at 124 E. 6th Street.

At the same meeting, the school district's leadership team was directed to move forward with a name change for the college. Pending legislative approval, the college will be known as Rocky Mountain Technical College, in recognition of programming that's taking place beyond the boundaries of the Delta and Montrose school districts.

A new director is also pending. Director John Jones is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 school year. Superintendent Caryn Gibson announced that six applicants for the position will be interviewed this week.

After an article outlining the proposed purchase in the Dec. 28 edition of the Delta County Independent, Gibson said the school district had not been able to come to terms with the seller. In early January, she was quoted as saying the technical college will pursue other sites or add instructional space to the current facility.

But the deal wasn't dead, after all. Stanley said she and Gibson redoubled their efforts to negotiate a sale.

Lucinda Stanley, broker/owner of Grand Mesa Commercial Real Estate, the listing agent, said Tuesday morning the sale is expected to be finalized on Jan. 31.

Although the purchase price of $150,000 is considerably higher than the original bid, the school district is working with Delta County Economic Development, Delta County, City of Delta and Region 10 to pursue grants for planning, design, renovation and operations.

Late in 2016, the City of Delta committed $25,000 to be used either for building acquisition or for matching funds for those grants.

The 22,000-square-foot building is very open, having been used for a grocery store and then a distribution facility for footwear manufacturer Chaco. Stanley said an office area and boiler room occupy the upstairs portion of the building.

Delta-Montrose Technical College plans to carve out three to four classrooms, plus offices, for business programs. The building will also include offices for Delta County Economic Development, the Small Business Development Center and Region 10 outreach. An innovation center/incubator will support entrepreneurship, as envisioned in a Better City study of economic revitalization for Delta County.

Trish Thibodo, executive director of DCED, said, "We will immediately be putting together a grant application to the Department of Local Affairs for a Feb. 1 deadline for engineering and design. We'll then apply to the Economic Development Authority for a grant for the innovation center."

This project is one of DCED's top priorities, she added. "My hope is that we can figure out a way to do the renovations as quickly as possible, so we can at least start to use the innovation center."

DCED continues to also work on the riverfront development, the other primary focus of the Better City study.

During the school board meeting, Caryn Gibson commented on the opportunity for Delta County Joint School District #50 to be a leader in area economic development efforts. At each of the four community forums hosted by the school district late last fall, participants identified the technical college as an asset with tremendous potential.

According to a study reported in the Jan. 24 Daily Sentinel, the economic impact of Colorado Mesa University on the Western Slope economy is $448 million. The presence of an institution of higher education can also have intangible benefits, especially for a county like Delta with an aging population.

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