Commercial activity is picking up steam
Ready for Business
Commercial properties that have sat vacant, for sale or available to lease for years are steadily and quietly being purchased or leased. The activity isn’t strong enough to be a cause for celebration, but it is a sign that economic recovery may be on the horizon here in the Grand Valley.
“We’re getting a lot of activity on buildings that are available,” said Katie Worrall, commercial broker with Coldwell Banker Prime Properties. “There’s a lot of leasing activity.”
High Desert Farms recently moved its production from Durango to Grand Junction, after searching unsuccessfully for a larger space in Durango and Cortez and later expanding the search to include Montrose and Delta.
“It became clear that the best fit was going to be in Grand Junction,” said Bill Manning, founder and chief operating officer of the company. The location on S. Commercial Street in Grand Junction not only puts the company closer to fruit growers, but is a better location for shipping.
High Desert Farms makes all-natural fruit snacks using fruit grown in Western Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. The company uses organic ingredients when possible and provides an additional market for organic growers.
High Desert Farms has hired four additional employees since moving to Grand Junction and anticipates that it will continue to grow.
“Our current space is 2,400 square feet,” Manning said. “This will serve us for a year. Going forward, our next level will need to be 8,000 square feet.”
The company currently has no local outlet for its product, but has been giving away samples to create a demand and is in talks with Sprouts Market in hopes that the grocery store will begin carrying the three-ounce pouches of chewy fruit goodness in all of its stores. High Desert Farms’ fruit snacks are available in six flavors; apple, apricot, cherry, peach, raspberry and strawberry-rhubarb.
Companies like Abbey Carpet and Floor are taking advantage of still-low prices and signing long-term leases for better locations.
“We moved because we weren’t visible before,” said Jeff Jacobson, owner of Abbey Carpet. “We have doubled the showroom space. This building was a landmark to the women in the valley because it was Hi Fashion for so long. People know how to find it very easily.”
The building was in great condition and the owner had recently done a lighting remodel, to give the building color-correcting lighting.
“We couldn’t ask for a better fit,” Jacobson said. “The space was perfect.”
Usually, when a business moves from one location to another, there’s a bit of remodeling that needs to be done before the business can open its doors.
Nick Gust and his business partner, Bob Schlagel, who hope to open a new restaurant on North Avenue, the Blue Moose BBQ and Grill, within the next week or two, have been remodeling their leased building for about three months. The building had been an Asian restaurant, but sat vacant for about a year before the partners signed the lease.
“Since last year when we started looking, six restaurant sites that were available have now been leased,” Gust said. In addition to good barbecue and steaks, the restaurant will offer a few upscale Bobby Flay-influenced appetizers and a full bar. There is room in the restaurant for banquets and special occasions and Gust, who is an executive chef, will offer catering services to local businesses.
Jim Cagle, who owns multiple Subway locations on the Western Slope, also plans to open a restaurant on North Avenue. In January, he purchased a building between Seventh and Eighth Streets that had been vacant for about two years.
“The timing was right,” Cagle said. “I was happy we got the building.”
Cagle has been doing extensive remodeling to turn the former auto specialty retail building into a Subway store.
“Right now is the time to do commercial deals,” Cagle said. “The opportunities go away.”
Ryan Lorimer wasn’t about to let the opportunity to be in a space he had eyed for years slip away. Lorimer is getting ready to open a new Grand Valley Auto dealership at 2584 Highway 6 & 50 on June 1. He had tried two separate times to lease the building but missed both opportunities.
“We are leasing the building to start, but we have plans to purchase it in the future,” said Ryan Lorimer, owner of Grand Valley Auto. “We had been looking for a long time.”
Grand Valley Auto wanted a location that had room for used car inventory, as well as business and administrative offices and service bays.
“We’re one of the few used used car dealers that offer service,” Lorimer said. Grand Valley Auto has two other locations which it plans to keep open, increasing the total number of used cars to about 250 between the three locations.
Location is one of the biggest reasons Peggy Barron decided to build a facility for her new business venture, The Wag Resort. Currently under construction on Indian Road off Riverside Parkway, the Wag Resort will offer a unique boarding facility for dogs.
“We have different areas for different size and temperament dogs,” Barron explained. “One of the things that we find is that dogs enjoy being social and they enjoy exercise.”
The Wag Resort will provide yards for exercise and social activity as well as private suites for dogs that don’t play well with others.
“We tried to find an existing building, but between the zoning and the amount of construction necessary for remodeling, it was easier to build,” Barron said.
With the absorption of many existing commercial spaces happening across the valley, a group of investment partners are planning a commercial development at 2572 Patterson Road. The partners own nine houses along Patterson, and are in talks with casual dining companies in Denver to gauge interest in westward expansion.
“We’re having neighborhood meetings,” said Dale Beede, commercial broker with Coldwell Banker Prime Properties and a minor partner in the development. “Hopefully, we’ll break ground this fall.”
The property backs up to Dewey Street in the rear and will have access from both Dewey Street and Patterson, with retail services in front and professional buildings in the back.
Other retail areas around town are filling, new business ventures are leasing units in vacant office buildings like Academy Mortgage in the Sherwood Professional Building on First Street, and investors are realizing that now is the time to pick up commercial space.
It may not be the full recovery that many wanted, but it’s more than enough to show light at the end of the tunnel.