Stepping forward on North Avenue
Residents of Grand Junction, and especially North Avenue property owners, have an opportunity at an open house this afternoon to see how a proposed zoning overlay for the important commercial corridor could work.
The open house will be from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at A Taste of Heaven Catering, 2817 North Avenue.
We fully understand that any discussion about a “zoning overlay” has about as much ability to generate public excitement as a paint-drying exhibition, but it’s important for the city, nonetheless.
Furthermore, the zoning overlay is just one part of the much-needed effort to revitalize North Avenue.
The Daily Sentinel and many others have argued for a number of years that efforts are needed by the city and property owners to re-energize what was once one of the top commercial areas in the city.
As Lori Pounder reported in Monday’s Daily Sentinel, the vacancy rate now along the North Avenue corridor is nearly double the rate of other parts of Grand Junction. Something is needed to reinvigorate the corridor, to attract more businesses and customers to the area.
Some portions of North Avenue have already begun to change, notably near 12th Street, where construction by Colorado Mesa University has created new, modern-looking storefronts and college buildings and attracted new businesses. Other businesses near the college have since remodeled or spruced up their properties.
The zoning overlay proposed for North Avenue would encourage property owners to build closer to the street, with parking on the side or at the rear of the business.
It would also push the use of signs that don’t tower over the street and would authorize more landscaping, benches and wider sidewalks to make the corridor more pedestrian-friendly and still accommodating for vehicles.
In addition to the zoning overlay, the city has obtained a $1.19 million federal grant to redesign three miles of North Avenue from First Street to 29 Road and to begin renovation of the roadway between 12th Street and 23rd Street.
Those who attend today’s open house can learn more about those projects and the schedule of construction that is to begin in 2014. They can also become acquainted with the recently formed group, North Avenue Owners Association, and what it hopes to accomplish.
The city planning department and some of the property owners along North Avenue are taking the first necessary steps toward revitalizing this important thoroughfare. They deserve credit and public support for their efforts.