Tour focuses on river’s economic potential

The site of an upcoming riverfront development at Las Colonias Park hosted part of a tour focused on the economics of the Colorado River on Saturday, where attendees envisioned a future park melding retail, recreation and manufacturing space that’s now a dirt lot adjoining the Riverfront Trail.

The park includes 15 acres designated for a business park hoping to attract manufacturers related to the outdoor recreation industry, like Bonsai Design, a Grand Junction-based zipline company which has committed to being the anchor tenant. Plans call for the rest of the 147-acre Las Colonias development, which includes the area with the new amphitheater near the Riverfront Trail, to be turned into a park including lakes for recreation as well as space for businesses.

The Colorado River Business Tour, organized by the Hutchins Water Center at Colorado Mesa University and Business for Water Stewardship, attracted about 20 attendees who examined different economic aspects of the river, including tours through peach orchards and irrigation facilities. Participants discussed everything from agriculture to tamarisk and endangered species.

At the Las Colonias site, Grand Junction city Engineering Manager Trent Prall told the group the city is working with project partners to start construction in the first quarter of 2018, and that the parcels north of the Riverfront Trail have been permitted for construction. He said details involving a boat ramp are being worked out with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bonsai Design CEO Thaddeus Shrader told the group there is one other business owner committed to the project, someone who wants to operate a tap room adjacent to the river, though he declined to provide details. He indicated there is room for one major retail tenant in the development, in addition to the smaller business spaces, and said his company remains the cornerstone tenant in the business park.

Shrader told the group there are a few companies that seem interested in relocating to the business park once it has been built and that proponents are working on several upcoming milestones for the development, one of which is forming a development corporation to handle the leasing for the property.

“We are just moments away from all those puzzle pieces coming together,” he said.

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership built a website, riverfrontcolorado.com, which invites companies to join the development. Shrader said he and other proponents of the project have been passing out promotional materials to potential tenants as well, including attendees of the Colorado Outdoor Industry Leadership Summit’s inaugural summit in Grand Junction last week.

Prall said the City Council will likely consider the proposal to form the development corporation in November.


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