No Reimer reason: Hotel-building brothers buck trend by locating downtown
New hotels didn’t belong downtown.
That’s what brothers Steve and Kevin Reimer were told when they moved to Grand Junction in 1994 and 1997, respectively. Stores and restaurants went on Main Street, they were told, and hotels went on Horizon Drive. Mixing up the order of things would surely lead to financial ruin.
Three downtown hotels and 250 rooms later, the Reimers are proving they were right to thumb their noses at that advice. They opened what is now the Fairfield Inn in 2000, followed by the Hampton Inn in 2003 and the Springhill Suites by Marriott in 2011, all packed into the 200 block of Main Street. The block was “pretty unsightly” before the Reimers started construction, Kevin said. But there was something intriguing about downtown that enticed them to build there.
“Our advantage is we looked at Grand Junction with fresh eyes,” Kevin, 52, said. “There’s a unique, eclectic blend of business down here. We were excited about downtown — a lot more excited about downtown than Horizon Drive.”
Since the hotels moved in and covered up dirt patches that dotted the west end of Main Street, downtown has seen the remodeling of Two Rivers Convention Center a decade ago and a cosmetic redo and utility renovation during the 2010-2011 Downtown Uplift. Steve Thoms, owner of The Winery restaurant at 642 Main St., said he expects downtown to get even more attention and visitors after the planned remodel of the Avalon Theatre is complete.
Thoms said having the hotels downtown helps steer visitors to his restaurant and others. The front desks at the hotels offer information about various downtown shops, eateries and events.
“The economic benefit to the downtown from the hotels is immense,” Thoms said. “I wish there was one on this side of Main Street.”
Hotel guests and their habit of checking in during the evening have inspired Grand Valley Books Owner Margie Wilson to keep her store open late. While some shops still lock up at 5 or 6 p.m., Wilson said she gets visitors strolling up one block to the store at 350 Main St. at 6 or 7 or later largely due to hotel patronage.
“It’s like the best thing since sliced bread,” she said of having the hotels downtown. “We get Europeans, people from Australia and New Zealand, all over.”
Wilson called the Reimers and their hotels “the best business neighbors we could have.”
“They’re smart people who knew how to put in good hotels,” she said.
The brothers had never owned a hotel when they came to Grand Junction. Kevin majored in hotel management at the University of Las Vegas, though, and had managed hotels for Hilton Hotels and InterContinental Hotels in Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, and Maui, Hawaii. Plus they had learned something about operating a family business while working at their father’s tire dealership while they were growing up.
Their mother Judi, who operates Consign Design, a shop just west of Springhill Suites at 234 Main St., said the boys and their sister, Cheryl, “worked for everything” while they were growing up. She’s proud of her sons’ success and that they had to earn it.
“They took a chance and they had a vision. I think some of that comes from their father, who took a chance” on a Goodyear Tire business, Judi said.
Judi describes Steve, 55, as a bit reserved but labels her younger son “an extreme extrovert.” She said she feels lucky to work next door to all of her children (Cheryl supervises the bar at Springhill Suites, Marlo’s, which is named after the family patriarch) and to have five out of her eight grandchildren in town.
Steve isn’t always in town. He and his wife, Mary, live in Reno, Nev. and he commutes to Grand Junction for business. His daughter lives in Reno as well, and his son lives in New York.
The Reimers are from Nevada originally, born and raised in Las Vegas. Steve said years of living in the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States left him pining for a smaller community. He found an opportunity to take over a Goodyear Tire store in Grand Junction and made the move.
Every time Kevin visited the town, he liked it more and more. Three years after his brother moved there and two years after their parents retired in Grand Junction, Kevin left his job as a real estate broker in Las Vegas to settle in the family-friendly town. His wife, Lisa, had baby number three on the way. They now have four children — three at home and one at Colorado State University.
The brothers say their work in downtown is not complete. A fourth hotel is a possibility, they said, depending on demand and what happens with the size of conferences and meetings at nearby Two Rivers Convention Center. Both believe the Avalon expansion is a good idea and that the area could attract more tourists if Colorado National Monument became a national park.
No matter what happens, they agree downtown can always stand to keep evolving. But change won’t have to mean leaving downtown’s history behind.
“If you could fast-forward 50 to 100 years, what would still be in Grand Junction? Mesa Mall will probably be torn down and rebuilt two or three times,” Steve said. “The bones of what’s down here will be here.”