The Grand Junction Downtown Development Authority is working with the city to invest millions of dollars into economic development with renovations to Two Rivers Convention Center and Las Colonias Park.

The Horizon Drive Business Improvement District is making the entrance to the city off Interstate 70 a welcoming place for locals and tourists.

In this season of budget presentations, the heads of the two groups that are financed by businesses in their districts highlighted some of their successes of this year and posed goals for the next year to the Grand Junction City Council during a Monday night workshop.

Construction should start next week on three lighted pedestrian crossings on Horizon Drive between G Road and Visitor's Way where three pedestrians have been hit and killed by cars since 2010. The city dedicated $250,000 to the project.

"We're happy to have made progress on all our 2018 goals," said Vara Kusal, executive director for the Horizon Drive Business Improvement District.

In addition, the BID board members dedicated $5,000 for a free shuttle bus that will operate a few nights a week to connect people from Grand Junction Regional Airport and Horizon Drive to Colorado Mesa University and downtown.

The shuttle bus program will begin at the end of January. It is a partnership with the Horizon Drive BID, the city, Grand Valley Transit and CMU.

The Horizon Drive BID also completed its Horizon Drive trail master plan, which includes designs for a trail behind hotels and businesses on the west side of Horizon Drive. The plan has been approved by BID board members and members of the city's Urban Trails Committee and now heads to the Grand Junction Planning Commission and the Grand Junction City Council for approval.

For the first time ever, holiday revelers can expect Christmas lights in the roundabouts on Horizon Drive.

Kusal said she obtained a permit from the Colorado Department of Transportation to allow the lights.

The BID expects to spend nearly $238,000 next year on a number of projects including art for the area, public safety, broadband, marketing, operational costs and paying off debt.

In the city's downtown, the DDA partnered with the city this year to issue $15 million in bonds and spend $4 million in DDA funds to develop the Las Colonias Business Park and renovate Two Rivers Convention Center.

"Those are signature projects for the downtown," said Brandon Stam, executive director of the Downtown Grand Junction Partnership, which includes the DDA and the Grand Junction Downtown Business Improvement District.

The DDA also worked this year to negotiate a purchase sale and agreement with REgeneration Development Strategies to develop 36 market-rate townhomes and offer the former R-5 High School as a community nonprofit space. Construction on the townhomes is expected to begin in the spring, Stam said.

REgeneration has planned an additional 40 to 50 units of infill housing at the former White Hall site on a vacant lot at White Avenue and Sixth Street, but a construction timeline has not been set.

This year the DDA welcomed 16 new sculptures to the downtown and next year will work to infuse more art into the downtown with its Art on the Corner program. It plans to develop goals for the downtown's newly established Creative District.

The DDA will continue to spend $220,000 in 2019 for three full-time police officers downtown and will work on other pedestrian safety measures, according to its presentation.

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