Lowell School one step further in restoration process
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Lowell School has been standing near Seventh St. and Grand Ave. for nearly a century and recently, a loan was awarded to continue work on restoration.
The loan from the Colorado Historical Foundation will go toward exterior repairs on the building.
The school itself hasn’t had students inside for some time. It now houses businesses. Jeremy Nelson is the developer in the project, which is a collaboration with the Downtown Development Authority. He was chosen by the DDA to spearhead the project. He says the plan is to keep the building’s history and keep it a building for the community.
“We don’t want it to kind of be a closed-off office building,” said Nelson. “We see this not as a commodity type of project, more of a community project.”
Unlike other projects, Lowell won’t be finished quickly due to the age and the efforts to preserve the school. The project will be done in phases as needed be.
“The school itself is a hundred-year-old building,” said Nelson. “So it requires just figuring out what the right sequencing of all the different maintenance and historic preservation work is.”
Many traditional lenders won’t loan money toward historical building renovations due to a short return on investment. With the loan from the Colorado Historical Foundation, the project was able to secure a loan. The funds from that loan will go toward exterior repairs, and Nelson said it should keep them busy for the next year or so. But the overall project Nelson believes will be a decade-long project.
“There’s no motivation for us to rush things and take shortcuts,” said Nelson. “We really see from a professional stewardship standpoint, but also in terms of commercial viability for the building.”
Part of the project includes the surrounding landscape as well as recently built townhomes that stand nearby. With the ground outside the school, Nelson wants to make it a place the public can come and enjoy. Right now, there are businesses that lease parts of the building, and Nelson hopes more will come.
“We kind of see it as a downtown hub for the surrounding neighborhood and the downtown as a whole,” said Nelson. “But we want it to be somewhat of a business incubator.”
Nelson said that at community meetings about the project, many people expressed the desire to keep the school in the community and not tear it down. He says the project is all about keeping the school a part of the community for years to come.
“We’re really committed to restoring the building and committed to reactivating it as a community serving hub, and we look forward to working with anyone in the community that wants to be part of that effort in small ways or large we have all sorts of opportunities to get involved.”
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