A search on the Grand Junction Economic Partnership website shows there are 94 commercial real estate properties available inside designated opportunity zones in the Grand Valley. But check back in a few weeks and that number is very likely to go down.

Interest in real estate within designated opportunity zones has been growing in the past few months, according to GJEP and local commercial real estate brokers. Some properties have already gone under contract, more deals are in the works and a few projects could be under construction before the year is finished.

"We've been seeing offers because they are in the zones, especially from out of town and out of state, which is good," said Dale Beede, a commercial realtor with Coldwell Banker Commercial.

Opportunity zones were included the federal tax reform bill that passed in December 2017. The provision was intended to spur investment and development in underserved areas where at least 20 percent of the population lives in poverty.

The zones allow investors to defer capital gains taxes if they reinvest the profits or real estate sales into the zones. The taxes can be waived after 10 years.

The Grand Junction area has six tracts that were designated as opportunity zones, including areas around Las Colonias Park, the so-called Riverfront at Dos Rios area between downtown and the Colorado River, along the 24 Road corridor near Community Hospital and much of the downtown area.

There is also a tract in the community of Mesa near Powderhorn Mountain Resort.

Beede said he had one property in an opportunity zone go under contract Tuesday and expects more to follow suit in 2019.

"I think as we get out of the cold and people start to get excited about the new year, we will see things ramp up," he said.

Ray Rickard, a commercial real estate agent for RE/MAX 4000, has eight properties listed in opportunity zones. Three of those are already under contract and one is set to go under contract shortly.

Rickard said he's seen interest perk up in the past 90 days, especially since Jan. 1. He attributes the influx in interest to a better understanding of the zones and the incentives they provide.

"I think opportunity zones are getting more defined and Mesa County is an exciting place to be," he said.

Some of Rickard's properties in opportunity zones include a listing near Seventh and Main streets and north of Community Hospital near 23 ½ Road approaching Interstate 70.

GJEP Executive Director Robin Brown believes the Grand Valley is well suited to take advantage of opportunity zones as the tracts are in areas that are already attractive to potential investors. They also come at a time when the Grand Valley is poised to take off economically, she said.

"In my mind, opportunity zones hit at an ideal time for our economy," she said.

Brown and her team have been pitching investors and developers on these zones for nearly a year now. Last week, they attended an opportunity zone "pitch-fest" hosted by the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Interest in Mesa County was high, Brown said, and GJEP is acting as an information source for potential investors.

GJEP recently added information on opportunity zones — what they are, where they can be found and more — to its website at gjep.org and hopes to make the search easy for investors.

"I think we've done as much as we can do. We put the info out there," Brown said. "Our role is making sure we have accurate information."

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