Ah, Freedom Park: Smoke hole. Employee picnic area. Department meeting spot. Anyone who's worked at the Gazette, including me, has memories of grills cooking hamburgers and hot dogs, and colleagues playing volleyball in Freedom Park, a green refuge south of the office building on Prospect Street.
Now, it appears to be the latest target for downsizing — a potential source of cash in hard times.
Like at a lot of businesses, the wolf of the recession is probably growling at the door of the Gazette, owned by Freedom Communications, which emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year.
Anyway, as circulation of the daily paper tumbles and layoffs have shrunk the ranks considerably, the newspaper has placed two pieces of property bordering its office building on the market.
According to a listing with HAI Highland Commercial Group, Inc, the park, 20,579 square feet in size, is valued at $103,000. The other, a 1-acre paved area just west of the building, is priced at $189,000.
"Corporate Surplus Land For Sale on East Colorado Avenue adjacent to Central Business District. Industrial, office or multi-family uses. Located adjacent to the Gazette campus. Easy access from E Pikes Peak Avenue," the listing says.
The empty lot to the west has a bit of a history. Adjacent to Shooks Run, its paving job some years ago got the newspaper in hot water with the city, because it was done without following some of the city's rules.
The Gazette's Bill Vogrin wrote in a 2006 article that the asphalt lot didn't have "the required landscaping or a storm-water retention pond to collect runoff and filter out oils and other contaminants common in parking lots." He also reported that city zoning officials found several problems after inspecting the lot.
"The lot was built without a city-approved development plan; asphalt exceeded the owner’s property line by about 15 feet along a long stretch of sidewalk; it lacked proper landscaping; and it violated the property’s residential zoning," he wrote.
We've asked Gazette Publisher Steve Pope to elaborate on the property listings but haven't heard back from him. We'll update when he responds.
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