Town of Avon contracts to buy Skier Building
How we got here
• October 2014: Town officials announce they’ve contracted to purchase the Skier Building in Avon for $3.2 million.
• November 2014: Town residents who object to the deal gather enough petition signatures to force a special election on the financing structure of the purchase.
• January 2015: Voters reject the financing by a 418-229 count.
• Through 2015: Town officials and residents work with the building’s owner on a new purchase agreement.
• March 8: The Avon Town Council will hold a public work session about the purchase at its regular evening meeting.
AVON — Plans are back for the purchase of Avon’s never-used Skier Building, but this time at a much lower price.
Town officials recently announced they’ve signed a purchase contract for the 16,000-square-foot structure. The Avon Town Council still has to pass an ordinance to give final approval to the purchase. The first of the two votes required for passage is expected to take place March 22.
This deal is significantly different than the original deal, signed in October of 2014. Then, the council developed a financing plan that included buying the building for $3.2 million. Several town residents objected to the deal, based in large part on the purchase price. A petition drive resulted in a special election in which voters soundly defeated the financing plan.
The new purchase price is less than half of the 2014 price: $1.5 million. The town will also use cash reserves to pay for the building.
Avon Town Council member Jake Wolf said the town wouldn’t have been able to get the building at the new price if not for the efforts of one of the original deal’s most vocal critics.
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After the special election, a committee made up of both town officials and residents was created to look into the town’s office space needs and options. Mark Kogan was part of that group.
Kogan spent much of his professional career as a partner with Goldman Sachs. In that role, Kogan spent a lot of time with commercial real estate transactions.
“(Kogan) was heaven-sent,” Wolf said. “He’s smart, he was willing to help, and he knocked $1.7 million off the building.”
In an email, Kogan wrote that he’s satisfied with the deal’s new structure.
“This new price represents the true value of the building,” Kogan wrote. “Its acquisition will free up other exceptional opportunities for the town to continue with its renewal plans.”
In a phone conversation, Kogan said his initial opposition was based on the price the town was paying, not the overall plan. The current town hall is old and “functionally obsolete” in many ways, Kogan said.
The fact of the new price seems to support the first deal’s opponents’ belief that the town could forge a better deal, Kogan said.
Wolf said Kogan’s support is an example of turning the original deal into something better.
“It’s a credit to everybody coming together instead of pulling apart,” Wolf said. “We filled in the holes (in the original deal). Everything people had a problem with, we’ve made better.”
Lots of options
With a new deal in hand, the question is now one of selecting what to do with the new building — still envisioned as new town offices — and the old town hall.
The Skier Building has never been finished inside, so it represents a true blank canvas for planning.
Both Wolf and Mayor Jennie Fancher said they’d like to see community space on the main floor, including a town council and community meeting room. The space could also include room for a coffee shop or community center for local teens.
Options expand when discussion turns to what to do with the original town hall, which dates to the early 1980s.
“That’s a very exciting, open question,” Fancher said. “It could be anything from an ice rink to a community center, or maybe performance space. It’s exciting to think about something complementary to the park.”
Besides the town hall and new office space, options will expand even more if voters in May approve a pair of ballot issues, one from the town and one from the Eagle River Fire Protection District. If those measures pass, the town and fire district will build a new public safety facility on the north side of the main Avon Interstate 70 interchange. That facility would house both a fire and police station.
If that happens, the town will have even more space available, since it owns the existing fire station property.
“There’s so many possibilities,” Fancher said. “The public will definitely be involved, not only for the best use, but what the majority of the community really wants.”