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Our View: Mercury Payments building

Durango looks forward to how Jim Coleman will repurpose former office space

That the original Mercury Payments System building will be in local hands after standing empty for about a year is very good news.

The attractive, 81,000-square-foot building is on 13.5 acres on a bench south of the Durango Mall and above the Animas River. It was built by Marc Katz and his brother, Jeff, who founded Mercury Payment Systems Inc., and their chief executive officer, Matt Taylor, in 2014. They specifically desired the proximity to the river trail, which is adjacent, wanting their employees – many chosen from Fort Lewis College graduates – to easily avail themselves of the outdoors.

As a location, they chose very well.

As often happens with a start-up, Mercury Payments System appealed to a succession of larger companies and it eventually became FIS Worldpay. As part of a larger entity, its original variety of positions and skills was narrowed, and with the virus a year ago, its employees were ordered to work from home. How many of those Worldpay positions are still filled with Durangoans is unknown, as it is easy to imagine that as employees turn over new hires could be living anywhere.

The local purchaser, which came with the closing a week ago, is James Coleman, who is the lead participant in the company that owns Purgatory Resort.

In a statement, Coleman’s associates said the building will be considered for a mix of retail, office and residential uses. Local architectural firm Reynolds Ash + Associates, which knows Durango well, is planning options.

Coleman keeps a low profile in Durango, but he receives praise for his decision-making at Purgatory. He immediately brought back “Purgatory” after a national marketing firm told the previous owner that a resort should have a geographical location in its name, thus “Durango Mountain Resort.” That never played well with locals.

Coleman also put Purgatory’s real estate component into other hands, focusing on what he apparently likes to do and is good at – skiing. Locals, knowing Purgatory was developed for skiing, not condominiums, applauded.

And, the skiing at Purgatory has grown. Most recently, a new lift is planned, one that will carry beginners to likely better snow higher up the mountain.

Coleman’s purchase of the original Mercury Payments building is receiving praise from local economic leaders and business owners, and rightly so. We join Durangoans in looking forward to seeing how the building’s new uses develop.

There is a lot to be said for proven local ownership.