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Goodwill takes 2300-block site off the market; plans expansion of fleet maintenance operation there

Ted Kibel, manager of the fleet maintenance facility for Discover Goodwill, helps mechanic Brian Busbee on a window-latch repair for one of the nonprofit company's buses.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado has decided not to sell its property on the south side of West Colorado Avenue's 2300 block.
       Taking the roughly 2-acre site off the market is part of a plan - worked out in the year since Kum & Go's gas station/convenience store proposal - to expand its vehicle-repair facility there. The idea is to start servicing fleet vehicles for other entities in addition to Goodwill's 70-some trucks, trailers and buses. The hoped- for result is a “self-sustaining enterprise” that would also fulfill Goodwill's mission of providing work opportunities for the disabled and disadvantaged, according to spokesperson Bradd Hafer.
       “The bottom line is that Discover Goodwill is staying on West Colorado,” he said. “We've been there a long time. We're happy to say we're staying in the neighborhood.”
       Also remaining are the retail store at 23rd and Colorado and the attended donations center, which is open to the public for drop-offs in the paved yard off the alley between Colorado Avenue and Cucharras Street.
       However, Hafer said the donation center's sorting function has been moved to Goodwill's new Retail Support Center on South Academy Boulevard at Hancock Avenue, which opened earlier this year. Also moved to South Academy is the “outlet store,” as it was called, that offered special bargains on certain donated items.
       The result is that there are just two people working donations now in the 2300 block.
       The other Goodwill employees at the site are the fleet's two mechanics. The repair facility, a garage with four bays, is located south of the alley, off 23rd and Cucharras.
       Under the new plan, fleet maintenance would become the local Goodwill's fifth “social enterprise” (a term Hafer used). Others are a custodial service, a laundry service, document imaging and grounds maintenance. Combined, they employ about 220 people, at least half of whom have “notable disabilities,” he said.
       Details on the new enterprise are still being finalized, including the potential number of employees. A key aspect is working out fleet-maintenance agreements with businesses, schools, nonprofits or other entities that might find the service in their interest.
The four-bay garage for Discover Goodwill's fleet maintenance facility is seen off the alley going west from 23rd Street. As the sign shows, the alley also allows access for citizens wanting to drop materials off at Goodwill's attended donation center.
Westside Pioneer photo
       In any case, Goodwill sees the enterprise as a “promising prospect,” not something long-range, and wants to move forward on it “as soon as possible,” Hafer said.
       Asked if the expansion might mean building changes (or additions) in the 2300 block, he responded that “nothing major is planned… Just some internal upgrades and enhancements (e.g., equipment, furnishings, flooring, etc.).” As for the existing buildings along the avenue - with space freed up because the donation- sorting operation has moved - Hafer said that "part of the fleet maintenance enterprise model would include classroom instruction for mechanical/maintenance training, etc., which would account for some of that vacant area." Details are still being determined, he added.
       Previously known as Goodwill Industries of Colorado Springs, the nonprofit company changed its formal name in 2012 to Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado. Cities in its area of coverage include the Springs, Woodland Park, Pueblo, Canon City and Grand Junction.
       Goodwill had owned the bulk of the avenue's 2300 block (both sides of the street) next to Old Colorado City for over half a century before moving its headquarters to Garden of the Gods Road in 2012. At the time, Goodwill was seeking to relocate completely (except for the retail store). The effort nearly succeeded, with the company selling its holdings on the north side of the 2300 block to Junior Achievement (which moved in earlier this year) and signing a contract with Kum & Go last year for the south side. The Iowa-based chain revealed plans to demolish all the existing buildings and erect a 5,000-square-foot convenience store with 10 pumps. But numerous Westsiders complained about potential incompatibility with Old Colorado City's historic image and surrounding older neighborhoods, and Kum & Go eventually pulled out last September.
       For a while afterward, some local leaders and commercial builders thought Goodwill might be open to selling the site instead to a local investor for a possible low-key redevelopment. However, Goodwill's leadership backed away to “reevaluate” what it wanted to do there, according to a Hafer statement at that time.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 7/30/14, updated 7/31/14; Business: Changes)

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