Downtown Uplift project to close Main Street beginning Monday
Construction begins Monday on the Downtown Uplift project, which will close Main Street from east of First Street to west of Fourth Street through June.
The second half of the project, stretching along Main from Fourth Street to Seventh Street, will begin in one year.
Some business owners on the 400 block of Main Street hope 365 days is long enough to change Downtown Development Authority members’ minds about turning that block into a “super block.”
The Downtown Uplift project calls for tree, sidewalk, storm drain, waterline and lighting replacement along all seven downtown blocks, plus the creation of a “super block” on the 400 block. The super-block plan includes installing an outdoor stage, eliminating all but a few parking spaces, and creating a children’s play area.
Aaron Hart, owner of Hart Music at 417 Main St., said he has surveyed store and property owners on the 400 block since the early stages of planning the Downtown Uplift project. In that time, he said he has heard only two people on the block praise the super-block concept.
“We feel parking is a more important amenity for us than anything they were planning,” Hart said, referring to the Downtown Development Authority, which is paying for the majority of the project, including $2.15 million for the first phase of construction.
The city of Grand Junction will pay for the project’s design, construction oversight and waterline replacement.
“It seems like they consider what merchants want less than what the community wants,” he added.
Being singled out has caused “a lot of heartburn” for shop owners in the 400 block, according to Gregg Palmer. As a Grand Junction City Council member, Palmer supports sprucing up Main Street. But as owner of Brown’s Shoe Fit Co. at 425 Main St., he would prefer all seven blocks to have the same level of construction.
Having fewer parking spots than the rest of the streets could hurt sales, Palmer said, and he also worries the extra amenities such as a stage will put the 400 block at the top of the list for being closed whenever special events take place downtown.
“Events are good for downtown overall, but it’s only fair we spread them around,” Palmer said.
Starting Monday, Main Street will be closed to auto traffic from west of Fourth Street to First Street until June 9. The intersection of Fourth and Main streets will be closed for three consecutive weeks during that time for demolition and reconstruction. Workers are expected to finish landscaping and irrigation work on the three blocks by June 30.