The Montezuma County Housing Authority’s application for a grant to restore the Calkins building was denied because of confusion about who owns the property, Linda Towle told city staff on Wednesday.
In October Towle, then-chairwoman of the Cortez Historic Preservation Board, helped the housing authority write a grant application to the State Historic Fund for $190,000 to fix the windows and doors on the former school building.
At a meeting of the historic preservation board on Wednesday, Towle said the state had turned down the request because a planned sale of the building had not gone through yet at the time she submitted it.
“That was the biggest complaint by the reviewers, was, ‘We’re not clear who owns this building,’” Towle said. “That’s really the only obstacle.”
In November, the RE-1 School Board passed a resolution to sell the Calkins building to a group called Calkins Redevelopment, being represented by the housing authority, for $265,000. Towle said the fact that sale hadn’t been finalized in October may have caused problems for the grant.
The housing authority plans to resubmit its application after receiving more feedback from the state, Towle said.
The issue of the grant came up during a discussion of the preservation board’s plans for Historic Preservation Day this year. Board members voted unanimously to organize a Main Street walking tour as part of their May celebration of Cortez history, and chairwoman Patricia Lacey asked whether the Calkins building could be included in the tour. Board member Holly Tatnall said it might be too dilapidated to make a good tour stop, especially since the housing authority won’t have the funds to do any repairs before the event.
“I worry a lot about the Calkins building, as I watch it disintegrate on a daily basis,” she said.
The Calkins building, located on 121 E. First St., was built in 1909 as a high school, and it was used for various purposes by the Montezuma-Cortez School District until 2008.
It was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 2016, the same year the housing authority unveiled a plan to convert it into an apartment complex for low-income Cortez residents.
Although the site plan was approved by the Cortez City Council, the project has been in limbo ever since the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority turned down the developers’ request for a tax credit to help fund renovations.
During that time, housing authority director Terri Wheeler said, several of its windows have been vandalized.
During the meeting, the historic preservation board also suggested some minor changes to the historic preservation pages on the new city of Cortez website, and heard an update from City Planner Tracie Hughes on the new land use code. Hughes said she hopes a draft of the new code will be ready for public hearings by the end of March.
Along with the updated code, the board hopes to get updated applications for property owners who wish to be added to the city’s inventory of historic buildings. Towle said several people have shown interest in the inventory and are waiting to fill out an application.
Hughes said she did not anticipate major changes to the historic preservation sections of the land use code.