A Mixed Bag: Some north-area projects are moving right along. Others wait for better days.

The new Holiday Inn opened in the summer of 2009. (Photo by Penny Stine/Real Estate Weekly)

Got a hankering for some sweet tea and a New Orleans Muffuletta? Try McAllister’s, the new lunch and dinner restaurant at Corner Square on First and Patterson. (Photo by Penny Stine/Real Estate Weekly)

The economic woes of the rest of the country have surfaced in Grand Junction, although not on the scale seen in some rust belt towns and neighborhoods. In the north area, where residential lots are hard to find and the hospitality business kept the airport area booming throughout 2008, some projects are moving forward. Others have stalled, waiting for financing and better days.

Ruby Ranch, a proposed 27-lot residential subdivision on eight and a half acres, is a local temporary casualty of tighter lending practices.

“Despite President Obama’s efforts to loosen up the banking environment, it simply hasn’t worked yet,” says Rick Brown, owner of Ramre LLC, the developer of the project. “If I could get the bank loan today, I’d go do it,” says Brown, adding, “I would take on that risk in the north area.”

Because of the location at 26 Road and G 1/2 Road and the projected home price somewhere between $350,000 and $400,000, Brown is confident that Ruby Ranch will sell successfully when he can obtain financing for the project.

Weeminuche, a proposed 150-acre subdivision north of Interstate 70, is also on a slow path to completion, but that’s not worrying the developer.

“We’ve been working on this five years,” says Janet Pritchard. “It’s a long process when you’re working on something this large.” Like Brown, Prichard is convinced that the project itself will be viable and well received, with a variety of housing ranging from estate lots at the outer edges to attached homes in the center.

Some residential developments, like the Sundance Village off F 1/4 Road and 24 1/2, haven’t seen a slowdown, in part because they were well underway before the economic meltdown hit and because they are filling a void.

“We are not unsatisfied with the sales that we’ve had,” says Kathy Deppe, who adds that people were buying homes they couldn’t see. The townhome development began construction and taking orders last fall on a section where now, there are only a few units left. “We have 12 of the current 19 sold.”

Although the developer is waiting for final financing, infrastructure is in place for 24 more units, and Deppe is ready to start writing contracts on the next few buildings. With prices starting at $166,500 and the convenient location near the mall, the two and three-bedroom townhomes could be a great place for those who don’t want to be tied to a yard. Renters who want to live in the north area will soon have a new option at Corner Square on First and Patterson. The development, which started construction of several commercial buildings in early 2008, is proceeding with plans to build two 24-unit apartment buildings in the development. They hope to go before the city planning department in April for final approval and begin construction by June.

“We’re trying to keep our construction workers employed,” says Toni Milyard, owner of RE/MAX 4000. The apartment buildings will be two-story, although the apartments themselves, which will be between 800 and 1,400 square feet, will all be single-story. Milyard hopes that the third phase of construction, which will feature 52 townhomes, will start in the fall of 2009, but admits that the spring of 2010 may be more realistic.

McAllister’s Deli, a national chain priding itself on sweet tea and an eclectic menu featuring sandwiches, salads, pizza and spuds, opened this past week at Corner Square, giving future residents and commercial tenants in the development a convenient place to walk for lunch or dinner. The Egg and I, in one of the other commercial buildings on the property, has breakfast covered with omelets, frittatas, skillets and scrambles, along with a variety of pancake and waffle choices.

Further north, the Holiday Inn on Crossroads Blvd. is also nearing completion and scheduled to open by mid-June.

“It’s a whole new kind of Holiday Inn,” says Mike May, the owner of the new hotel. “It will be an outstanding hotel, with everything you can think of at a reasonable price, as luxurious as you can get without doing a luxury hotel.” Right now, the hotel is hiring for management and supervisory positions, but expects to begin hiring locals for all positions by mid-May so the staff can be fully trained for the opening in June.

“They (locals) know the town best. When guests come in, they can tell them things to do and places to go,” says May, who isn’t too alarmed by the economic slowdown, but admits opening a new hotel would have been easier during the peak boom time. “But we’re in it for the long term.”

Other projects that are developing in the north area include a Hyatt Hotel and a Hampton Inn near the airport, and a large FedEx facility on Justice Court near the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Real estate in the north are has held its value and most experts agree that the area will weather the current economic storm better than most, especially when banks begin lending money for big projects.


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