FRUITA: Improvements continue, attracting new business and residents
Fruita is working hard to remain a nice place to live, with city planners working on keeping the small-town atmosphere while creating an atmosphere that residents and businesses want.
“The downtown plan is underway,” said Fruita City Manager Clint Kinney. “We want to make sure downtown continues to be great.”
Improvements include moving the stage at Civic Center Park and trying to create more of a connection between the two downtown blocks on Aspen to the park. Fruita planners also want to make sure the other downtown anchor, the downtown circle park, is pedestrian friendly.
Fruita City Council will have an opportunity to discuss the plan at its normal meeting on Nov. 5 and may adopt it by Nov. 19.
The city is also working with the county on the Colorado Riverfront Trail and hopes that the portion between the Colorado Welcome Center at Fruita and 18 1/2 Road will be complete by the end of the year. Bids for the next section, from 18 1/2 Road to the Walker State Wildlife Area off River Road near 24 Road, came in under budget and planners hope to have that portion of the trail complete within a year.
“It will be a nice addition,” said Kinney, who said the county is taking the lead on the riverfront trail project. Although partnerships between government agencies, public entities and private groups may be rare in other places, they’ve always worked well here on the Western Slope, where Kinney said everyone works hard to work together.
Fruita is also working to finish the second half of construction at the Fruita bike park, near Colo. Highway 340. When finished, the bike park will have a playground area, picnic shelters and hard surface trails, in addition to the mountain bike features.
The town of Fruita’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. New businesses are moving to Fruita, attracted by the lifestyle and atmosphere.
“There’s a growing art culture in Fruita,” said Dennis Friedly, who recently opened the Friedly Brothers Gallery on North Cherry. Dennis is a potter who enjoys making functional pottery while his brother, Danen, is an oil painter. The brothers opened the studio during the Fruita Fall Festival and are hoping to have working artists in the gallery on weekends.
“Fruita is an up and coming town that’s growing,” said Elizabeth Blaha, who recently opened Fruita Chiropractic and Massage with her husband, Dr. Jon Blaha, near downtown Fruita. “It grew when the economy wasn’t doing well.”
The Blahas relocated to Fruita from Nebraska after considering other communities in Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado. They’ve been welcomed with open arms from the community and from the other chiropractic clinic in Fruita, which hadn’t been able to keep up with the growing demand in the community and has been giving them referrals.
“We’ve grown faster than we thought we would,” Blaha said. “There’s definitely a need.”
While Christopher and Elizabeth Boyd may not see a true need for their business in Fruita, the two restaurant owners hope there will be a demand when they open the Fruita No Coast Sushi restaurant in January.
“Fruita is a great community,” said Elizabeth Boyd. “It has great events and there is lots of potential for growth.”
The Boyds purchased the building at 229 E. Aspen, which used to be the home of Sullivan’s Grill, in August and are working to clean and remodel the facility. The Fruita restaurant will be open for lunch, but will be closed Sundays and Mondays and will offer slightly different fare without a full bar. They’ve been encouraged by the reception they’ve received from other business owners and the city of Fruita.
Colorado Backcountry Biker also opened up shop near downtown Fruita, at 150 S. Park Square, where Singletracks used to be.
“We’ve been in business for eight years,” said Tony Uriguen, general manager for the bicycle tour company, which offers hut-to-hut self-guided cycling tours on the Uncompahgre Plateau. Although the tours are self-guided, the company has a support van that’s constantly stocking the huts with food, water and the all-important beer. The support van also transports luggage so bikers only have to carry the gear they need that day on their bike.
“We move between 300 and 400 people through our trips,” Uriguen said. The tour attracts visitors from Canada and other parts of the U.S., as well as the Front Range. Uriguen believes that opening the shop and providing rental bikes to customers has encouraged visitors to extend their trips to the area.
In the off-season, the company does full bicycle service and repair, as well as rebuilds.
The continued eligibility of Fruita as a rural community per the United States Department of Agriculture for the Rural Development (RD) loan program, at least until Jan. 15 when it will be reviewed, means that the town will remain popular with buyers who don’t have a large down payment. Qualified buyers can finance 100 percent of their home loan with an RD loan, which could be one more reason Fruita has been a great place for new home builders.