City, downtown group plan for Main Street makeover

Nearly 50 years after a group of visionaries enacted a radical project that converted downtown Grand Junction’s dusty Main Street into the tourist draw and cultural center it is today, downtown stakeholders are planning a makeover of the street to ensure it remains a top attraction for another half-century.

Officials charged with marketing and developing downtown unveiled Wednesday a plan to spend more than $3 million adding amenities and replacing crumbling infrastructure on Main Street between Third and Seventh streets.

Stakeholders are working to determine the scope of the work but hope to identify a preferred option by August and begin construction in January. The goal is for the bulk of the project to be done in time for the first downtown Farmers’ Market in June 2010.

“It still is a ground-breaking project and a well-known project, but it is nearly 50 years old, and there are parts of it that are beginning to look tired,” Downtown Development Authority Executive

Director Heidi Hoffman Ham said, referring to Operation Foresight, an initiative completed in 1962 that created the downtown shopping park.

“We need to put our Operation Foresight 2 hat on and look 50 years down the road. We want to take the foundation and the groundwork they laid, literally, and build upon that and make it better.”

The major components of the project could include removing and replacing up to 40 percent of Main Street’s trees, reconstructing broken or cracked brick planter walls, installing more lighting and adding more bathrooms and play areas. The city will replace a nearly 50-year-old water line underneath the street, and the four-block section of Main will be repaved with concrete.

Ham said the city will primarily focus on pulling up pine trees that were planted in brick and concrete planters, leaving in place as much as possible the sycamore and other larger shade trees planted in the ground on the corners and midblock.

She said officials are concerned not only that the trees have outgrown the planters, but that they will all die at the same time if they’re left alone. She said the city will take a phased approach to the removal of old trees and installation of new ones to avoid leaving gaping holes in the landscaping on Main Street.

Ham said there was some talk of converting Main to a pedestrian mall and eliminating vehicular traffic, but that option likely will not be pursued. She emphasized historic elements of Main Street, such as the serpentine design, will be retained.

Branded as “The Downtown Uplift,” the Main Street makeover will mark the third leg of a rehabilitation of downtown streets. A five-block stretch of Seventh Street and one block of Main Street east of Seventh were upgraded in 2007, and a remodel of a four-block section of Colorado Avenue is just being finished.

Although construction won’t begin for several months, the DDA and the Downtown Association, which is responsible for marketing the downtown area, are risking hitting downtown restaurants and shops with a double-whammy: tearing up streets and sidewalks while businesses suffer through an economic recession.

Ham insists officials are aware of the impacts construction will create but says this project will vary from the others.

Unlike the Seventh and Colorado projects, she said, a 10-foot sidewalk will be maintained in front of Main Street businesses. She said parking will be available from the lots on Colorado Avenue and the lots and garage on Rood Avenue, while pedestrians maintain access through breezeways connecting those lots to Main.

Another breezeway will be built this summer where International Coin & Stamp, 440 Main St., currently exists. The business is moving to another location downtown, and officials will demolish the building to build a passage between Main and the parking garage, Ham said.

Ham said officials have learned lessons from the other projects and will implement them on Main Street. They are developing a public-relations campaign to give the public and merchants plenty of notice about the project, and they intend to improve signage and offer promotional support for merchants who need it.

Ham said the DDA will emphasize incentives for the contractor for finishing early or penalties for finishing late.

“We don’t want to put any more stress on our downtown merchants than the world at-large already is,” she said.

The DDA met with Main Street merchants in a series of focus groups last week to gather feedback.

Local residents, too, will have an opportunity to share their ideas and concerns during open houses that will be scheduled in the coming months.

“I think everyone is pretty excited about giving it a face-lift,” said JoLynn Garcia-Tillman, consignment coordinator for the Blue River Trading Co., 441 Main St.

Nearly 50 years after a group of visionaries enacted a radical project that converted downtown Grand Junction’s dusty Main Street into the tourist draw and cultural center it is today, downtown stakeholders are planning a makeover of the street to ensure it remains a top attraction for another half-century.
Officials charged with marketing and developing downtown unveiled Wednesday a plan to spend more than $3 million adding amenities and replacing crumbling infrastructure on Main Street between Third and Seventh streets.
Stakeholders are working to determine the scope of the work but hope to identify a preferred option by August and begin construction in January. The goal is for the bulk of the project to be done in time for the first downtown Farmers’ Market in June 2010.
“It still is a ground-breaking project and a well-known project, but it is nearly 50 years old, and there are parts of it that are beginning to look tired,” Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Heidi Hoffman Ham said, referring to Operation Foresight, an initiative completed in 1962 that created the downtown shopping park.
“We need to put our Operation Foresight 2 hat on and look 50 years down the road. We want to take the foundation and the groundwork they laid, literally, and build upon that and make it better.”
The major components of the project could include removing and replacing up to 40 percent of Main Street’s trees, reconstructing broken or cracked brick planter walls, installing more lighting and adding more bathrooms and play areas. The city will replace a nearly 50-year-old water line underneath the street, and the four-block section of Main will be repaved with concrete.
Ham said the city will primarily focus on pulling up pine trees that were planted in brick and concrete planters, leaving in place as much as possible the sycamore and other larger shade trees planted in the ground on the corners and midblock.
She said officials are concerned not only that the trees have outgrown the planters, but that they will all die at the same time if they’re left alone. She said the city will take a phased approach to the removal of old trees and installation of new ones to avoid leaving gaping holes in the landscaping on Main Street.
Ham said there was some talk of converting Main to a pedestrian mall and eliminating vehicular traffic, but that option likely will not be pursued. She emphasized historic elements of Main Street, such as the serpentine design, will be retained.
Branded as “The Downtown Uplift,” the Main Street makeover will mark the third leg of a rehabilitation of downtown streets. A five-block stretch of Seventh Street and one block of Main Street east of Seventh were upgraded in 2007, and a remodel of a four-block section of Colorado Avenue is just being finished.
Although construction won’t begin for several months, the DDA and the Downtown Association, which is responsible for marketing the downtown area, are risking hitting downtown restaurants and shops with a double-whammy: tearing up streets and sidewalks while businesses suffer through an economic recession.
Ham insists officials are aware of the impacts construction will create but says this project will vary from the others.
Unlike the Seventh and Colorado projects, she said, a 10-foot sidewalk will be maintained in front of Main Street businesses. She said parking will be available from the lots on Colorado Avenue and the lots and garage on Rood Avenue, while pedestrians maintain access through breezeways connecting those lots to Main.
Another breezeway will be built this summer where International Coin & Stamp, 440 Main St., currently exists. The business is moving to another location downtown, and officials will demolish the building to build a passage between Main and the parking garage, Ham said.
Ham said officials have learned lessons from the other projects and will implement them on Main Street. They are developing a public-relations campaign to give the public and merchants plenty of notice about the project, and they intend to improve signage and offer promotional support for merchants who need it.
Ham said the DDA will emphasize incentives for the contractor for finishing early or penalties for finishing late.
“We don’t want to put any more stress on our downtown merchants than the world at-large already is,” she said.
The DDA met with Main Street merchants in a series of focus groups last week to gather feedback. Local residents, too, will have an opportunity to share their ideas and concerns during open houses that will be scheduled in the coming months.
“I think everyone is pretty excited about giving it a face-lift,” said JoLynn Garcia-Tillman, consignment coordinator for the Blue River Trading Co., 441 Main St.

Staff writer Le Roy Standish contributed to this report.

 


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