New effort needed for North Avenue
The renewed interest in finding ways to revitalize North Avenue in Grand Junction is certainly welcome news. Too much of the once-thriving business-and-retail corridor has seen a slow decline in recent decades. It certainly could use some rehabilitation and modernization.
However, the notion of undertaking such a revitalization is hardly brand-new. It’s been talked about for years.
Former Grand Junction City Councilwoman Bonnie Beckstein made it a part of her campaign platform when she first ran for the council in 2005. And the city adopted a North Avenue corridor plan a couple years later that is meant to examine portions of North Avenue in specific sections to see what might work best for each.
But since then, little has occurred, at least as part of any broad, organized effort to rehabilitate North Avenue.
That is not to say there have been no improvements along the busy roadway that is actually a state highway, not a city street.
As was noted in Amy Hamilton’s article in Sunday’s edition of The Daily Sentinel, McDonald’s and Daylight Donuts have revamped sidewalks in front of their businesses to make them more usable and inviting to those on foot, while sprucing up their own storefronts. Highly visible improvements have also been made recently to the Veterans Administration Hospital and Stocker Stadium.
But the most noticeable change along North Avenue in the past few years came when Colorado Mesa University acquired old properties along North Avenue west of 12th Street and constructed new, modern-looking retail spaces in conjunction with new student housing.
The university has also suggested the possibility of working with developers on a more pedestrian-friendly retail plaza just to the west of the existing project.
Some of these improvements may spur other, nearby property owners to make upgrades of their own. But there still needs to be an improvement effort for the entire stretch of North Avenue, or perhaps several efforts for each of the different sections.
Too much of North Avenue has the feel of decaying retail strip from the 1960s. There is no consistent sidewalk pattern. In some places, sidewalks just end, to start up later, or they are perilously close to ditches. There are large abandoned retail spaces and smaller buildings that are either abandoned or run down. The multitude of tightly spaced traffic lights makes the route far from attractive for motorists who just want to see what’s available.
The city can provide some assistance to help spruce up the roadway, as it is already planning with grant applications. But, if business and other property owners want to make North Avenue prosperous and inviting again, they need to look at one of the financing ideas mentioned in Hamilton’s story and work cooperatively to develop a plan to make it happen.