Palisade street looks to upgrade worn-out image

A number of property owners in Palisade’s Iowa Avenue neighborhood have had enough of the area’s long-standing poor reputation — and they are doing something about it.

Susan and Jet Capps bought a rental property in January at 963 Iowa Ave. Since then, they’ve spent months cleaning, painting, replacing windows, repairing rotting pieces, landscaping and adding stucco and a new deck.

Ed Hokanson and his business partner own 12-unit and six-unit rental properties along Iowa, and they have added hardwood floors, new countertops and upgraded appliances, as well as patched walls, painted, put in new doors, replaced panels, trimmed trees and rebuilt decks.

Linda Todd manages 18 units on Iowa, and she says those properties’ owners have upgraded the exteriors, painted, fixed driveways, upgraded appliances, and added new flooring and light fixtures.

All have made efforts to upgrade the caliber of tenants in their units as well.

“We want to not have the rental properties of Palisade be the armpit of Mesa County,” Todd said.

“Every single thing we can think of to make it a nicer place to live, we’ve been trying to do,” Susan Capps said.

“Our interest is to get the lingering mystique out of what the street used to be, and help turn it around,” Hokanson said.

That mystique — be it real or perceived — stems from decades of appearances of Iowa Avenue in the local crime blotter, deteriorating conditions of the street and crumbling cracker-jack apartment buildings.

But even after tens of thousands of dollars spent and countless man-hours labored, all three are hoping to gain some additional support from the town itself to turn things around.

They appeared before the town’s Board of Trustees late last month to plead their case to improve the street, in advance of the town’s discussions later this year about the 2013 budget.

“Generally, the street looks run down. The asphalt is worn out, and it’s full of patches,” Capps said. “It just looks like an afterthought for the city.”

“If they are improving roads, we’d like it to be as nice as most places, especially with the density involved and the traffic. I think it deserves it,” Hokanson said.

Iowa Avenue is one of the more visible streets to visitors, as it’s one of the roads that make up the loop that connects Riverbend Park — venue for all the town’s major tourist events — with U.S. Highway 6.

“We don’t want people to have a bad impression of the area. It’s just time for a face-lift, and the city needs to partner with us on it,” Todd said.

Trustee Bennett Price said he was “impressed” by the property owners’ efforts, and he realized the need for repairs to the “alligator street” that Iowa has become, with lots of patches and a lot of cracking.

“When you get into that state, it’s beyond chip and seal. You’ve got to really improve it,” Price said.

The Town Board ultimately will provide direction on line items for the 2013 budget, including funding for street repair projects, after a series of public meetings. Town staff perform an initial analysis of streets to assess repair needs, and those results help trustees prioritize projects.

Town Administrator Rich Sales said in an e-mail that he hopes to start budget meetings with the board by the end of the month.

Until Iowa Avenue is prioritized in the town’s street repair budget, it will be up to property owners there to keep the renovation momentum going.

“There are still some real problems at Iowa, but we hate to think that the owners are in it alone,” Capps said.

“We have just poured so much money into it, we would love to see it go to the next level — improve the residences that are on the street, and improve the street, and get it to where it is a sweet place to live.”


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