Northeast: Facelift Brings Change
The northeast area includes some of the oldest parts of the valley and some of the fastest-growing areas. North Avenue has been a main drag for years and unfortunately, it shows. Some of the buildings and parking lots look like they’re stuck in a 1960s time warp, with dated signage, inadequate infrastructure and limited landscaping. Fortunately, the city is aware of the need for revitalization, and so are a few builders who are doing the difficult work of infill development.
“The city has really tried to improve their process and make it so things can get through faster, but it’s still so frustrating as a developer,” says Stacy Cook, who has been working on the Plaza on North Avenue for more than three years. The Plaza, which is currently under construction at the old Fun Junction site on North Avenue and 28 ¾ Road, will be home to a Hooters Restaurant, as well as other retail shops and services. The owners of the franchise own 30 other Hooters and are excited about the opportunities in Grand Junction.
They think it’s going to be their best store,” says Cook. “There are more rooftops over there than in any part of Grand Junction, yet there aren’t many restaurants.”
Construction on the Hooters building could start by the end of spring. Construction on one of the other buildings at the Plaza has already begun. Prospective tenants include a liquor store and a rent-to-own furniture store, and a tax service, tanning salon and a dry-cleaner have all signed up to be tenants.
“It’s going to be a great project,” says Cook, who adds that Hooters will have a nice outdoor patio and attractive landscaping.
Peppermill Lofts, a 48-unit apartment complex, is another North Avenue infill project whose backers are excited about the possibilities.
“The opportunity came about at the same time the city was talking about revitalizing North Avenue,” says Brad Higginbotham, one of the partners in the project. “It’s a very urban design; we think it will be very attractive.”
Higginbotham adds that tighter lending practices may cause more people to rent rather than buy. This apartment complex will not only offer a convenient location, but will also bring new design and attractive landscaping to the streetscape. The developers hope to submit final plans to the city for approval soon and begin construction within the next 60 days.
North Avenue could become a more convenient retail area for Orchard Mesa and Pear Park residents with the construction of the 29 Road and I-70 B Interchange, a project the city continues to pursue.
“This is not a project that we’re postponing, we’re still moving full-speed ahead on this one,” says Paul Jagim, project engineer with the City of Grand Junction. The city has about 10 percent of the right-of-way agreements left to negotiate and continues to coordinate with the railroad to secure final approval on the plans for the bridge and access points.
Construction may impact traffic along I-70 B, but shouldn’t disrupt other roadways. The city negotiated only one residential relocation for the project. Sage Technical Services, which offers a truck-driving course, also had to move from their former location behind Mesa County Workforce on North Avenue to IntelliTec College on Horizon Drive to make way for the interchange.
Although Western Implements/Ranch Rite Hardware on North Avenue will lose some of their back lot to the new interchange, the store is not moving, and is still planning the annual auction, utilizing the back lot one last time for the March auction.
“We’ve been doing the auction for more than 25 years,” says Gene Coleman, the store manager. Without the full back lot, they may have to reduce the number of consignments they accept for the auction in 2010, but this year, it’s business as usual. The store has already begun accepting consignments, and expects to have everything from antiques and farm equipment to water tanks, trucks and trailers.
There are plenty of housing options in the northeast part of town. The Legends, a 260-home development off Patterson near 28 ½ Road, continues to grow with the construction of the final 20 single-family homes scheduled this year. Ron Abeloe has been building the Legends for five years, transforming a 45-acre parcel of dry land into an attractive pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. Once all of the single-family homes have been finished, Abeloe will begin construction of the remaining 120 units, which will be one and two-story duplex style homes closer to Patterson.