The Piñon Project has officially moved into its new location, but that’s just the beginning of the nonprofit’s plans for change.
The Cortez charity group moved almost all staff into the former City Hall building on 210 E. Main St. on Monday. Piñon’s offices were previously split between three buildings around town, and executive director Kellie Willis said putting them in one building will make the group’s programs more accessible to the public. Starting next year, though, she hopes to give the building a makeover that would allow Piñon Project to offer more services there.
“We’re able to all be under one roof, which, for the community, is everything in one place,” she said. “We don’t have to send people all over the place.”
She said the location on Main Street is also easier to find than their previous buildings on Montezuma Avenue, Broadway and the annex to the preschool on Chestnut Street. The new building also has more space for offices, waiting rooms and private consulting rooms.
On Friday several Piñon volunteers were still finishing a new, green paint job in the upper-floor rooms of the building. Willis said the group made minimal changes to the interior before moving in, and most of the work was done by staff members. They knocked out one wall in the former finance department to make a more open office space, added a chair lift to the stairs to make them handicap-accessible and installed new phone lines, but no major structural changes have been made. At least, not yet.
Willis said Piñon will most likely apply for a Department of Local Affairs grant next year to make some bigger changes to the building. To prepare for that application, they will be consulting with several architectural graduate students from the University of Colorado Denver over the next few weeks, through another DOLA program, to brainstorm ideas for renovations. One of their biggest ideas so far is to add windows to the basement room that used to house the city council chambers. But Willis said she especially hopes to remodel the building behind the main offices, which is currently being used for storage. She and the other Project leaders hope to turn it into a youth center someday.
“This building will be the easiest to sort of gut ... and open it up for a large activity space,” she said. “One of the most attractive things, to me, is that we’ve got a building that our youth staff can use, but more importantly, that youth in our community can use.”
The city of Cortez has supported Piñon throughout the move, Willis said, even selling the building for less than its original list price.