Gallery and downtown offices planned for shared building

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Harry Weiss, left, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, and Tim Foster, president of Colorado Mesa University, discuss a collaborative effort to open a university art studio and gallery and DDA offices in a shared building on Colorado Avenue. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)
Harry Weiss, left, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, and Tim Foster, president of Colorado Mesa University, discuss a collaborative effort to open a university art studio and gallery and DDA offices in a shared building on Colorado Avenue. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

A university art studio and gallery soon will open side by side with the offices of a downtown organization.

Officials with Colorado Mesa University and the Downtown Development Authority announced the collaboration during a news conference at what will be a shared facility at 437 Colorado Ave. in downtown Grand Junction.

CMU will use about two-thirds of the 4,800 square-foot space for an art studio for instruction and a gallery that will showcase the works of students, faculty and guest artists. The DDA and Downtown Grand Junction Business Improvement District will use the remaining third for offices.

CMU and DDA shared in the cost of renovating the building. The studio, gallery and offices all are scheduled to open in mid-September.

“It accomplishes a lot of things in one nice package,” Harry Weiss, executive director of the DDA, said of the effort.

CMU President Tim Foster agreed. “It kind of connects a lot of different dots.”

Foster said CMU was looking for an appropriate venue for its student art gallery as well as opportunities to establish a greater presence in the downtown business district. The gallery makes sense, he said, in that it will add to cultural amenities downtown that include the Art on the Corner sculpture exhibits, newly renovated Avalon Theater and other galleries.

Moreover, a temporary gallery CMU students operated downtown last semester was a success, Foster said.

CMU also is considering opening a retail outlet along Main Street downtown to sell apparel and other university branded merchandise, he said.

Weiss said a CMU presence downtown will benefit both the university and business district. The downtown and the amenities it offers are part of the overall experience CMU can market in attracting students, he said. Bringing more students as well as their parents downtown will benefit businesses there, he added.

The DDA and Business Improvement District will relocate its offices from space it’s leased from the Museum of Western Colorado in the Whitman Building for nearly a decade.

Collaborating with CMU on renovations in the shared space reduced the cost, Weiss said. “It’s a really great partnership.”