In August, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of the 7th Judicial District purchased the vacant Jeans Westener building that had sat empty for years. Many businesses had contemplated how to use the space, some made offers, but it wasn’t meant to be. In the end, the best fit for the historic retail space wasn’t a commercial enterprise. Rather the non-profit CASA, an advocacy group that represents children who are subject of dependency and neglect court proceedings, will call it home.
CASA begin eyeing the Jeans Westerner building in early 2018, but it didn’t know how they would be able to finance the $685,000 asking price. If they could buy the building, CASA could put their rent payment toward equity in ownership and nearly double their existing space. It made a whole lot more sense for CASA to buy an existing building as the price to build a brand new one would easily be over a million and then there was trying to find as central of a location as the Jeans Westerner building shell.
“The building seemed ideal from the beginning but how could we not only get $685k as a non-profit but then remodel it in a cost-effective way on top of the purchase price,” said Carlton Mason, CASA Executive Director. “It seemed nearly impossible on paper to finance, but we weren’t going to let that stop us.”
Mason spread his vision to others. CASA’s board of directors caught the vision after visiting the building multiple times. The old retail box could be transformed into a dream location for them and other like-minded nonprofits like PEER Kindness and Montrose Suicide Prevention Coalition. Finally, Mason envisioned the possibility of integrating on-the-spot, job-skill training with the neighboring Backstreet Bagels for CASA youth.
“I began to ask the question, ‘What if we could partner somehow with Backstreet Bagels to get at risk kids job training to circumvent the process of homelessness and the revolving door of our youth entering the program later?'” Mason said. “We could provide them the necessary job skills from interviewing to resume building to the confidence of holding a job ó all happening in the same building.”
Through the collaboration of Renfrow Realty working for CASA and David Kienholz of Phelps Real Estate Group, the real estate transaction began to come together. Meanwhile Mason and the CASA Board worked diligently to find the building funds from a low-interest USDA loan and the AJL Charitable Foundation to have their mortgage payment be less than their current rent payment. The remodeling costs will be covered thanks to the Montrose Community Foundation who is spearheading a fundraising campaign.
For more information call Carlton Mason at 970-901-5296 or sent email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To donate to Montrose Community Foundation’s matching fund efforts, please call 970-249-3900 or email email@example.com.