New direction for North
Now that Grand Junction City Council has signed off on a name change for North Avenue, many business and property owners along the corridor have some work to do to plan for the change, and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and a Colorado Mesa University business club say they stand ready to help.
The change of a 4-mile stretch of North Avenue to University Boulevard — approved in a 5-2 vote on Aug. 16 — will take place March 1, 2018, and the U.S. Postal Service will continue to deliver mail addressed to North Avenue for 12 months.
But in the meantime, businesses can get help on steps they need to take from the chamber, which sent a letter Aug. 23 with information on what the city is doing to work with the Postal Service and geographic information system services, and is also offering personal assistance for any business. The letter also states there is no need to change a title or deed and that the city will file paperwork with regulatory agencies on behalf of any business with a liquor license.
“We wanted to have a robust package of discounts and opportunities,” said Diane Schwenke, chamber president and CEO.
In the coming weeks, volunteers with the chamber and CMU’s Phi Beta Lamba business club will go into North Avenue businesses to see what needs exist and if they can help in any way. Students are also free to volunteer should there be an issue they can tackle.
Some expected tasks include phasing out items such as business cards, letterhead and anything a business distributes that lists its address. However, most of the cost will come in terms of man hours, according to some estimates.
Kevin Bray, vice president of the North Avenue Owners Association, which supported the effort to change North Avenue to University Boulevard, said it could cost some businesses $300 to $1,000, depending on their size, to handle the change.
“People are concerned about the costs. I think that’s always a concern,” he said, adding that he heard mostly support for the effort.
Some places, such as the Grand Junction Veterans Health Care System, have a little more to deal with. Veterans Affairs must alert all suppliers so they are able to get medical supplies.
“The onus would be on us to ensure patient safety to make sure suppliers have the correct street address,” said Paul Sweeney, spokesman for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. said.
A business such as North Avenue Coins, a coin-collecting shop at the corner of 12th Street and North Avenue, faces a different predicament as the owner must decide whether to change the name of his business.
Owner Dusty Felix said he won’t change his shop’s name and has opposed the street name change because he feels it is not worth the money the city will spend to change the signage on the road, or the money business owners will have to spend on their end.
“I think it will affect too many businesses and cost too much money. It’s not a favorable proposition,” Felix said. “It’s not something you can do for $20.”
The city will spend $22,000 and spend 350 labor hours to create and install signage.
Felix isn’t alone, as a grassroots effort has popped up to gather signatures to have the council rescind its decision or put it to a vote of the people.
However, some property owners believe the name change will have long-term benefit with its association with CMU, even if it comes with some upfront cost.
“I think the most important thing for me is that the name change will give the street a classier, more distinguished ambiance to it that will be more interesting to an out-of-town business that was looking at moving here,” said Roger Sollenbarger, owner of the Red Cliff Pointe Shopping Center near North Avenue and 28 Road.
“It stands to give a lot of credence to the quality of education we have here, and so many new businesses need a talented workforce.”
Sollenbarger believes the North Avenue name comes with some baggage as there is a negative connotation to part of the strip that is known for more run-down establishments, crime and as a hangout for the homeless.
Darren Cook with Bodac LLC, a company that rents to more than 25 businesses in the North Avenue corridor, agrees and said the name change will help him attract more tenants who are looking for cheaper rent than downtown. He also feels the price of new business cards, letterhead and signs will be less costly than many think.
“We’re in a digital economy and a lot of the arguments I hear about letterheads, stationery, business cards, those are quickly becoming a thing of the past,” Cook said.
Dennis Seth, owner of Mountain Time Service Sales and Watch Repair — 1460 North Ave., Suite R — doesn’t believe he’ll have much cost associated with the change. But he’s nevertheless opposed to it, saying he thinks the name change might not bring such a positive association.
“I’m not sure it’s really going to be worth changing,” Seth said, noting time spent in a college town in Illinois where he associated University Boulevard as a place for drunken college students or a place to get in a fight at a bar.
“I’m just not convinced that word university is going to make it positive,” he said.