Coca-Cola building coming back to life
Two new tenants in $700K Murphy renovation
Crews from Murphy Constructors are nearing completion on a $700,000, inside/outside renovation of the 43,429 square foot concrete warehouse/ and office building on the 1.54-acre property between Spruce and Walnut streets. The Westside-based contractor is the primary owner in a limited liability corporation (LLC) that bought the site last August, according to Kevin Murphy, son of business owner/founder Chuck Murphy.
New tenants have already leased most of the remodeled interior space. Floorz, a full-service commercial flooring company (16,000 square feet); and Linx, a network cabling company (2,000 square feet), opened for business in early May.
The Deep Rock water company's Colorado Springs distribution facility was already at the site, having begun leasing 16,000 square feet at the east end of the building in September 2007, after the Coke company had vacated the premises the previous January.
Jeffrey Zeikus, president of Floorz, first toured the building in January of this year, before Murphy started its work. The Floorz business, which started 10 years ago, had been leasing space in northern Colorado Springs but the lease was to run out this spring and Zeikus was looking at other sites. At the time, the space Murphy offered - facing Pikes Peak Avenue along the north side of the roughly 60-year-old building - looked like “a bomb shelter,” he recalled with a grin. There were only a few small windows, old wooden stairs and ancient bathrooms and utilities. Floorz, which averages $15 million of business a year between its Denver and Colorado
The end result is a colorful, modern showroom and office space, with new plumbing and heating systems. The outside, adorned now with several tall windows on the north wall, is receiving a new coat of stucco and other design touches throughout and landscaping is about to go in. “This is just awesome,” Zeikus said. “We love being down here.”
Old-timers will notice a change in the roofline. Towers about 10 feet high have been added atop the northeast and northwest building corners. These are for design only. The idea was “to change the whole look of the building, so when people drive down I-25, instead of seeing a roof, there's some dimension,” Kevin Murphy said.
The Linx area in the northwest portion was remodeled from an area that was once used to work on service units, Ziekus said. Floorz and Linx (which also have offices in Denver) are part of a larger business entity, the Jupiter Consolidated Group, and Linx is a sub-tenant to Floorz, he explained.
Dennis Mason, general manager of the Colorado Springs division of Linx, said his group of 30 technicians is happy with the move. “Closer to downtown is great, and there are perks that go along with that,” he said.
The bulk of the Floorz space is a broad warehouse behind the office area, which looks much as it did in the Coca-Cola days. The old Coke racks are even still being used, Zeikus pointed out.
Such warehouse openness (which can be useful in moving equipment and materials around inside) is actually hard to find, according to Dave Arzdorf, general manager of Deep Rock's Colorado Springs facility. He noted that the “twin-T” concrete roof doesn't require as many support beams from the floor as those typically found in modern construction. “This was built really well,” he said.
Arzdorf was also pleased that some of Murphy's upgrades have included the Deep Rock part of the building. During a visit this weekend, upgraded bathrooms were going in. “They're doing nothing but great things,” he said.
Deep Rock previously had been located off Janitell Road for about 20 years.
The three businesses (Deep Rock, Floorz and Linx) all share the loading docks at the west end of the building.
Still available for lease is about 8,000 square feet at the northeast end of the building, Murphy said.
Coca-Cola had bottled soft drinks in the plant for nearly 30 years (and in the downtown area another 50-some years before that) up until 1984. Then the business became a regional distributorship only. Needing a larger building for that purpose, Coke built a 63,000-square-foot warehouse on 11 acres off Powers Boulevard and Aeroplaza Drive, moving its Westside operations to that location in early 2007. The Pikes Peak Avenue Coke building was sold to an LLC from Texas in August 2007 for about $1.8 million. But the LLC could not put together a workable plan, Kevin Murphy said, and wound up selling to the Murphy-led LLC for $1.2 million last August.
Plans have come together nicely for the Murphy company. In addition to the downtown appeal, “there isn't another building in that vicinity with that much square footage,” Kevin said.
Chuck Murphy's initial building interest was from the standpoint of social service, not profit. A volunteer with Catholic Charities, he was considering it as a location for the non-profit's outreach to the poor and homeless. Eventually, the decision was made to have such facilities closer to the St. Mary's Church (on the east side of the interstate).
By by then Chuck Murphy was seeing commercial possibilities. His company was outbid for the Coke property in 2007 by the Texas firm, but later was happy to take it off that group's hands for a lower cost. “The price was reasonable,” Kevin Murphy said. “He [his father] could spend money to improve it and get tenants right away and make a fair value on the lease rate. So there would also be a little cash flow. That's difficult to do in today's market.”
From Coca-Cola's standpoint, it's nice to see the old building thrive. “We're glad to see something there that will be vibrant and help the area,” said the company's long-time sales manager, Jerry Mayes.
Westside Pioneer article