On the day the sale of the former Russell Stover plant was set to finalize, Jeff Keehfuss, a local real estate agent, confirmed that his family’s LLC, KFE Properties, completed the purchase of the retail location at the front of the property.
It could be another two weeks before the sale of the former candy factory is closed, according to Montrose Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Sandy Head, who cited hangups on zoning and details; but Keehfuss expressed excitement about the future of the smaller 4.5 acres at the front of the former Stover property.
“It’s a done deal,” Keehfuss said.
KFE Properties LLC purchased the acreage as well as the former candy shop for $2.25 million. Keehfuss said he felt the property was “undervalued” and the pricing, “extremely aggressive.”
And, according to Keehfuss, the price originally started even lower than the closing price. There were a few different buyers looking at taking over the property, and there was a bit of “a bidding war,” he said, before KFE Properties submitted an escalator clause, offering to pay $25,000 more than any offer.
“We certainly felt that the replacement cost of the building alone would be in excess of what we paid for it,” he said of the 10,000 square foot facility, which has on-property parking outside as well as a loading dock in the back.
Now the question is what to do with the facility.
Originally, Keehfuss said, he wanted a place to expand his Berkshire Hathaway Real Estate offices (currently the office is located at Townsend and South Fifth), but while that option is still on the table, he doesn’t want to say just yet what is going to happen with the property.
People in the know have been asking him about his plans for the building. There are plenty of different options on the table.
“As the days went by we started realizing we wanted to find the highest and best use of the property,” he said. “If I’m looking out for Montrose at all, and I live here and have for most of my life, I’d like to have something in there that’s exciting for the community.”
So, while it’s still possible the Berkshire Hathaway offices could be moved or expanded into the building, Keehfuss said he will likely put the property back on the market in search of an opportunity where KFE Properties could retain some of the land.
“We could split the whole property and make something different out of all of it, including us still occupying the building,” he said. “I don’t have an answer on what we’re going to do other than we’re tickled pink we were able to buy one of the most prime buildings and properties in Montrose.”
Asked what kind of businesses he thinks Montrose residents would like to see in that building, he expressed he’s seen a desire for more restaurants, like Olive Garden, Chick Fil A or Texas Roadhouse.
The building and the landscaping around it are being cleaned up now, and Keehfuss said it’ll look just as nice as it used to in about two weeks, minus the Russell Stover signage, which is already gone.
Russell Stover shut down operations in Montrose in August 2020, citing financial hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The company had been operating in Montrose for 45 years when it made the decision to close, leaving about 300 people jobless.
Justin Tubbs is the Montrose Daily Press managing editor.