Survey identifies five potential housing areas in Grand Junction
Experts crunching numbers generated by a 40-page housing study conducted last fall identified five “major” downtown locations where commercial housing projects could be launched, development authority officials said last week.
The burned-out White Hall location tops the list.
Among the study’s many findings: Demand for downtown housing among both young and old is high, though locations for development are limited.
There are very few infill opportunities — chances at new construction amid existing urban development — remaining within greater downtown, according to the study commissioned by the Grand Junction Downtown Development Authority.
“Only a few residential lots appear to be vacant of any structures. Combined, no more than 10 to 20 additional units could be built on infill lots within the residential areas (of downtown),” concluded the study, conducted by Cathy Rees of Rees Consulting.
Any redevelopment done that is compatible with the style of homes in the area and sensitive to the character of its neighborhood will probably result in fewer units being built, Rees wrote.
As a result, “Buildings with small units crammed onto single-family lots distract from the neighborhood and ... should be replaced with fewer units that more closely resemble adjacent homes,” she wrote.
One exception would be the apartment buildings along Chipeta Avenue between Third and Fifth streets. These sites would potentially accommodate more units, the study said.
Although small, detached bungalows rated highest of the six choices offered in an online survey conducted as part of the study, bungalows ranked only slightly higher than flats and lofts among those interested in living downtown.
Townhomes and live/work units also received fairly high ratings, according to the survey.
“Developing many accessory apartments (garage, basement or attic) is not advisable, however, given survey responses,” Rees wrote.
The White Hall site at Sixth Street and White Avenue tops the list of downtown locations ripe for redevelopment, Rees concluded.
The area around the burned-out building is “well-suited for residential redevelopment,” but its current condition is discouraging potential investors, she said.
Residential units to the north and vacant property and underutilized parking lots to the south and west of Whitehall could be developed for residential use if the burned-out Whit Hall structure is reconstructed, the survey said.
“It is now an impediment to redevelopment in the area,” according to the survey.
A location designated the “Library Site” at Fifth Street and Chipeta Avenue “appears ideal for residential development with single-family homes to the north (and) apartments mixed with single family to the west,” Rees concluded.
With the Gray Gourmet meals on wheels facility, library offices and Senior Recreation Center to the east and the new Central Library to the south, the location would be attractive for elder city dwellers, a significant segment of the area’s population that showed an interest in residing downtown, the study said.
The southwest area between Colorado and Ute avenues and Second and Third streets also has significant potential, according to the survey. “Moving the I-70 Business Loop one block south would reduce noise but could make ground floor retail and commercial space less viable,” the survey said. “Overhead power lines will need to be placed underground.”
The survey advised that the positioning of residential units in the Colorado Avenue section of downtown should be done to take advantage of views of the Colorado National Monument to the south.
“Multistory buildings would be compatible in the area,” the survey said.
Alleyways could present opportunities for infilling with accessory units, but there are many dilapidated structures in the alleys, making them inappropriate for more residential units without some significant cleanup and code enforcement, the study said.
Another potential site for redevelopment includes sizable vacant lots east of Seventh Street on White Avenue and Main Street. There are no obvious impediments to the development of these lots for residential or mixed uses, the study said.
People interested in living downtown have strong preferences for diverse neighborhoods with a variety of housing, a mix of housing with retail and services, being able to walk or bike to work, and smaller, lower maintenance yards, an online survey of 1,100 area residents showed.
The downtown district embodies these desired characteristics, the study said. “Future downtown developments should provide a mix of housing types and sizes and possibly include commercial space on site. Access should be pedestrian-friendly rather than car-dominated. Sites should not be consumed by large yards,” Rees wrote.
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the potential market for housing in Grand Junction’s downtown district. When people live downtown, they improve the economic viability of local businesses and enhance the overall vitality of the area, said Harry Weiss, DDA executive director.
“A goal of the Greater Downtown Plan, adopted in April 2013, is to promote downtown living by providing a wide range of housing opportunities, both rental and for sale,” Weiss said. “This study provides the information needed to achieve this goal through the development of housing that is responsive to demand.”