Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado is likely to purchase one of the former Goodwill Buildings on West Colorado Avenue.
The financial-education organization is under contract to purchase the 26,000-square-foot building that includes 2310 and 2320 W. Colorado Ave.
JA’s board of directors will meet Aug. 20 to vote on moving forward with the purchase, said local JA President and CEO David Loose.
The building, located west of the Goodwill retail store and across the street from the Goodwill property that is the site of a proposed Kum & Go convenience store, most recently housed Discover Goodwill’s administrative offices, which relocated to Garden of the Gods Road last year.
JA is under contract to purchase the building, constructed in 1965, for about $600,000, Loose said. The El Paso County Assessor’s database lists the property’s value at about $935,000.
“We signed the contract on June 18,” Loose said. It’s a very good deal, and we’re very complimentary to Goodwill for working with us on the price.”
Loose said JA of Southern Colorado is in its first phase of a capital campaign to raise $3.9 million to create its “Biztown” and “Finance Park,” a sprawling, interactive financial-education center that teaches students, fifth grade through high school, the importance of making good financial decisions throughout life.
JA has established about 25 Biztown and Financial Park centers in metropolitan areas across the country, serving thousands of public and private school students each year.
Loose was hesitant to talk about plans for the Goodwill building because JA is still in the early stages of the campaign to make the project a reality and still has a long financial road ahead.
But he said the opportunity was too good to pass up.
“It’s got great visibility and it’s in a great part of town,” he said. “It’s just a great building for us, but we don’t want people to think our capital campaign is over.”
The building is zoned C-5, which allows “general commercial uses of moderate intensity” and also allows a proprietary school, ideal for Biztown and Finance Park.
Even though JA has had the building under contract, the organization was holding off on a board vote to discover whether it could afford to remedy some of the building’s problems, namely its roof, sprinkler system and asbestos removal.
“We’ve got our arms around the problem now, and so it’s just a matter of voting about this on August 20th,” Loose said.
If the motion to purchase is approved, JA will have several move-in options. Right now, the JA office, a former home at 419 W. Bijou St., is for sale and the Goodwill space is being rented by El Paso County for staff training purposes. The county will remain in the building until the JA office sells, but it’ll likely be a couple years until Biztown or Finance Park opens its doors.
“We’re in no hurry, and we have a lot of flexibility,” Loose said. “This just means the project is one step closer to reality and puts us in a good position. It’s a good first step.” n CSBJ
(Disclosure: Rob Larimer is a member of the board of JA of Southern Colorado.)