A peek at downtown housing
Urban living plan would repurpose R-5, White Hall vintage buildings
As a few dozen people wandered the halls of the former R-5 High School on Thursday night during an open house, some liked the plans for the area’s future, but others not so much.
The ideas played out on the walls with sketches that included a housing development with ground floor retail space at the site of the former White Hall. Townhomes would encircle a courtyard in the parking lot of the former school, and in a third phase, the former two-story school would be converted into loft studio apartments.
As residents offered ideas about an electric charging station for cars and a bicycle repair station, developer Jeremy Nelson of REgeneration Development Strategies took the information in stride, promising to be open to ideas. Nelson has been awarded a letter of intent by the Grand Junction Downtown Development Authority to develop about 100 units of mixed-use buildings and market-rate housing at the DDA-owned sites.
“We’re putting together a business model with the city,” Nelson said. “If we get lucky, I think we can get housing to downtown Grand Junction.”
Nelson said the former R-5 building would be open to retail or commercial possibilities as the housing developments occur over the next several years, but those uses aren’t long-term goals for the building at the corner of Grand Avenue and Seventh Street.
Aaron Young, who bought the building at 750 Main St. that houses the Factory co-working space, said people are seeking quality construction and he thought the downtown housing plans might work.
Young reflected on the recent failed ballot measure to locate an event center downtown, citing more, modern infill development as a way to bridge Grand Junction to those bigger projects.
“Speaking for demand, I think there is a demand for this,” Young said. “These are the opportunities, these are the wins that Grand Junction needs to have to get into those bigger opportunities.”
Nelson said the units would be from 600 to 800 square feet, attracting baby boomers looking to downsize, young families and millennials. Some of the townhomes planned for the empty lot at the former school would be for sale, and others would be rentals. The modern-looking apartments slated for the former White Hall property at the northeast corner of Sixth Street and White Avenue would be rented.
Todd Crone, who lives across the street on Grand Avenue, said he liked the look of the plans, but didn’t want to see the former school and historic building torn down.
Nelson assured that he, too, does not want the building torn down. Its potential for loft apartments would have wide appeal, he said.
Donna Patton, who lives in the downtown area, said she liked the looks of the town- homes with their nod to other historic homes in the area.
However, she questioned whether the modern-architectural style for the apartments slated for the former White Hall parcel would blend with the neighborhood. “My concern is multi-level housing will only attract a certain age demographic,” Patton said. “This is not for older people. … I like the plan. It doesn’t work for me but it might work for somebody.”
Nelson countered that the proposed apartments are on the edge of the downtown commercial core and near neighborhoods with single-family residential homes. Most of the downtown is a combination of older and newer construction.
The Blythe Group is the project’s architecture firm and Nvision Design Studio is working on landscaping architecture for the projects.