Area Feature: The northeast
The northeast area was a popular spot for the growing Grand Junction housing market a few years ago, with new developments popping up across vacant land north of F Road from 28 Road to 32 Road.
Some developments have stopped completely, becoming victims of the mortgage crisis that swept the country, while others are still cautiously moving forward.
“Considering the market, things have done really well out there,” says Winona Schwartz, the Coldwell Banker listing agent for Saddle Rock South, a subdivision east of 31 ½ Road near F ½ Road. “They’re really good quality homes, with prices between $249,900 and 350,000.”
Vernon Pace is the builder and developer at Saddle Rock, and he’s been able to build spec homes in spite of the economy, thanks to private investors, his own business sense and simple good timing. Other builders weren’t so lucky.
“I was one who had to have the whole thing ripped out of my hands before I would give it up. But now I see that we were building in a non-sustainable pattern,” says Mansel Zeck, whose company, Zeck Homes, built many homes in the northeast before filing for bankruptcy in August of 2009.
Although many of the homes in the Zeck Homes subdivision, Irish Walk, were built and sold, Silver Mountain was still in its infancy when the economic tsunami hit. Now, there are a handful of completed homes on a subdivision full of empty streets.
“The values on all properties spiraled down too quickly,” says Zeck, who also had the misfortune of banking with a Front Range bank that collapsed and was closed by the FDIC in April 2009. Although the bank had promised funding to complete the homes, the money never came, so Zeck was left with homes he couldn’t finish and couldn’t sell, sitting on lots that depreciated monthly. “Lots are now for sale in Grand Junction for less than what the cost of infrastructure was.”
Construction at Walnut Estates, a different northeast subdivision, has slowed due to an inability to get better financing, but hasn’t stopped.
“We sell the spec or the model home just as fast as we can build it,” says Kathy Deppe, the RE/MAX 4000 listing agent for the subdivision.
“The northeast area doesn’t have as much inventory in that price range as some of the other areas do,” says Deppe about the homes at Walnut Estate, which are usually priced below $250,000. “You find older homes in the northeast, but people still want something brand new. We’ve got a great location. It’s easy to get to, easy to get where you want to go.”
The city is doing what it can to make the northeast area a little more accessible to other parts of the Grand Valley, with the ongoing construction of the 29 Road interchange with the I-70 Business Loop. The interchange will include a bridge over the railroad tracks, connecting 29 Road to Riverside Parkway or continuing to Orchard Mesa over the 29 Road Bridge.
“It’s going to be a major thoroughfare,” predicts Paul Jagim, with the city of Grand Junction. Construction of the bridge could start as soon as June 1, with an expected completion date of November 2011.
The city rebuilt the interchange at 29 Road and North Avenue a few years ago in anticipation of the connection to the I-70-B.
“During construction of the bridge, we will maintain traffic on the I-70-B,” promises Jagim. “It may be diverted or shifted, but we’ll always try to maintain two lanes of traffic, although there may be occasional closures that we’ll schedule for nighttime.”
Although the original traffic plan was a beltway that included a new freeway interchange at 29 Road that flowed traffic to Riverside Parkway and then back to Interstate 70 on 24 Road, there aren’t any budgeted funds for the freeway interchange.
If the city can partner with other agencies, then the project could still happen.
The economy and other factors have put a temporary halt on expansion plans at Homeward Bound, the Grand Valley’s community homeless shelter on North Avenue. When the shelter first began to talk about expanding, plans included projections on the number of people using the shelter.
The economy helped push the number of people currently being served at the shelter far beyond the projections in the original plan.
“We decided to halt the expansions and relook at what we need to do,” says Gi Moon, executive director at the shelter. “We certainly don’t want to do this again in three years.”
Maverik, Inc., out of Salt Lake City, slowed down its expansion plans in 2009, but is back on track to open 20 new stores this year, with three company-owned convenience stores scheduled for the Grand Valley.
Although the Fruita store will open first, the company hopes to open another store in the Peach Tree Shopping Center in Clifton and another in the northeast area at 29 ½ Road and F Road.
“We’re a little bigger (than a typical convenience store),” says Don Lilyquist, permits manager for Maverik. “We offer more selection and a different experience. We have an in-store bakery and do cookies, cinnamon buns, breakfast pastries, fresh-baked bread and rolls.”
Although there’s a convenience store on the opposite side of F Road, Lilyquist says competition doesn’t scare the company away from good locations that have high traffic and a large number of rooftops.
The pace may have slowed, but better access, better services and continuing construction mean the northeast will remain a thriving area for residential and commercial development.