Montrose, CO — The Montrose City Council approved a resolution on March 7 creating a new milestone in the partnership between the community and Colorado Mesa University. The city’s decision to redevelop City Hall coincides with efforts from the private sector and CMU to collaborate on economic development, revitalization, historic preservation, and the enhancement of higher education in Montrose.
The council is in talks to partner with the same private company that is currently developing the Rathbone Hotel in downtown Montrose to include the historic City Hall facility in that redevelopment project. Simultaneously, the City Council agreed to a memorandum of understanding that invests the proceeds from the project to establish the Montrose Permanent Fund Endowment. The Permanent Fund will guarantee that proceeds not only provide a lasting benefit for Montrose residents but will also be matched with a $500,000 contribution from Colorado Mesa University. The endowment will support higher education initiatives including the addition of hospitality management and culinary arts curricula at the CMU Montrose campus to train and support a regional workforce to serve the growing tourism, recreation, and visitation needs of the community.
“The City of Montrose has had a longstanding, positive relationship with CMU, and we look forward to continuing with expanding the available curriculum that Montrose citizens have available to them,” Montrose Mayor Dave Frank said. “We are also excited to add a permanent funding source to aid Montrose residents with tuition to expand our educational opportunities locally.”
The public-private partnership concept is one that communities around the country use to pool resources to support community vibrancy and economic development. While the project represents a major milestone in the CMU/Montrose partnership, work has been ongoing for more than a decade.
In 2010, then Mesa State College, the City of Montrose, and Montrose County agreed that work should be done to improve relationships and enhance education and workforce development efforts in the community.
Work began to renovate the Buell Higher Education Center to improve the quality of educational instruction at the evolving CMU Montrose Campus.
The partners then moved to purchase the Patrick Davis building, which is now the Branscome Center. Following this transaction, the City of Montrose created a new Cascade Avenue pedestrian quad to connect the two buildings and enhance the college experience at CMU Montrose.
In the years to come, additional acquisitions and efforts would result in spaces that allow for career and technical education programs like welding, machining, early childhood education, certified nursing assistant, etc.
In recent months the partnership between Montrose and CMU continued to produce benefits as both entities partnered to create a new summer law enforcement academy and a new Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program.
On Wednesday, CMU President John Marshall spoke at an event celebrating the formal signing of the partnership arrangement involving City Hall and was accompanied by CMU Foundation CEO Robin Brown.
“Montrose has been a great partner with us, and we have achieved a great deal together over the last decade,” said Marshall. “The Montrose Permanent Fund is a true milestone that adds to the millions CMU has invested in Montrose in the recent past and will serve as a catalyst for even more investment in enhancing workforce training and higher education for the future, while also supporting revitalization and economic development in Montrose.”
(Montrose Mayor Dave Frank and CMU President John Marshall shake hands after signing a memorandum of understanding to establish the Montrose Permanent Fund Endowment during a special ceremony held on the City of Montrose campus Wednesday morning.)
Negotiations with the owners of the Rathbone Hotel are ongoing with a closing date yet to be determined, but city officials are hoping to close in May of 2023, according to Montrose City Manager Bill Bell.
“We are so excited to seize this rare opportunity to enter into a collaborative project that will benefit the Montrose community for decades to come. We know that the face of our downtown is changing as our community grows and with many new businesses opening up, there is a need to think bigger and more strategically as we plan for the future,” Montrose City Manager Bill Bell said.
Last year, the council voted to purchase the vacant building at 400 East Main Street, formerly the Wells Fargo bank building in downtown Montrose, to be used as the city’s new City Hall. Renovations to that building have been ongoing since last fall. The process of moving operations from the old City Hall to the new Main Street location began in March.
The new City Hall is much larger than its predecessor, which will allow the city to expand services as the community continues to see unprecedented growth.
More information about this project will be released once it becomes available.