Silver Key to relocate to former Bates Elementary site in about three yearsSilver Key Senior Services has begun a process that will relocate the nonprofit agency for the elderly away from the Westside in about three years.
The plan became public at the District 11 Board of Education's May meeting, when the body approved Silver Key's $850,000 offer to buy the currently unused Katharine Lee Bates elementary school at 702 Cragmor Road.
The intent is to have a more central city location in a larger building - one that's in better shape the current facility - on a site that has room for expansion, according to Lorri Orwig, Silver Key's chief development officer. Another advantage is being closer to UCCS's Lane Center, which works with aging adults and has a partnership with Silver Key, she said.
Space comparisons between Bott and Bates are telling. Silver Key now has a total of less than 1.5 acres at its two properties on Bott Avenue, and its building at 2250 Bott comprises 25,400 square feet. By contrast, Bates sits on 5.7 acres, with a 37,000-square-foot building.
But the move is going to take time and effort. “We have the funds to purchase the site, but not to renovate it,” Orwig explained. “We're doing a feasibility study for our capital campaign [to fundraise the renovation costs]. It's possible that it could start this year. This is the first step in a very long journey.”
She estimated it would take two to four years, adding the comment, “I'd love to be in the building in three years.”
D-11 had initially asked $1.1 million for Bates, but accepted Silver Key Senior Services's offer of $850,000.
Currently being studied is the extent of modifications needed at Bates. Two known significant costs will be installing a commercial kitchen and removing the asbestos-laden floor tiles, Orwig said.
Just deciding to move was the result of two years of consideration by Silver Key's staff and volunteer board of directors. Lending urgency was a series of problems with the existing building (technically two joined structures, both built in the '70s, based on County Assessor's Office information). A major incident was last summer's rains, when water flooded offices and ceiling tiles fell down. Last January, there was a problem with a blocked sewer line, forcing porta-johns to be brought in for a few days. It's become evident that the facility needs “modern-day upgrades” in terms of heating, plumbing and electrical systems, Orwig summarized - hardly a welcome financial situation for an entity that relies heavily on private donations.
Silver Key began a site-by-site search last August. “We looked at many, many properties,” she said. One of those was Bates. It had been placed on the market after the D-11 board voted to close the school in the spring of 2013. It rose to the top of the agency's list. “We felt that it could be a very welcoming place for our clients,” Orwig said.
The relocation decision was not made without regret. “We love being on the Westside, and we love the neighborhood feel,” she said. “ But Bates is a perfect opportunity to take a historic location, with great memories in the community, and to repurpose it for future uses.”
Westside Pioneer article