Dirt piles and heavy machinery are becoming a common sight on the east end of downtown Grand Junction.

Two major projects along Seventh Street are underway that will add 12 floors of office space between two buildings and eventually bring in 36 new townhomes to the downtown corridor.

Last week, Kaart CEO Aaron Young hosted a groundbreaking event for a new four-story building at 734 Main St., right next to his two-story 750 Main building that he built a few years back.

Young said he was excited to get the process started after what's been roughly two years of planning.

When complete, two floors of the new building will house Kaart employees. Kaart is a geographic information mapping company that charts road infrastructure for companies such as OpenStreetMap. The other two floors will be available for lease.

Young also owns the parcel at 702 Main St. and plans to build an eight-story office building on the corner of Seventh and Main streets.

"We want to start construction and get some of the building pre-leased (at 734 Main) before breaking ground on 702 Main," Young said at the Aug. 5 groundbreaking.

He doesn't expect to break ground on 702 Main for roughly 18 months.

Two blocks north in the lot behind the old R-5 School at Seventh Street and White Avenue, work is underway on four townhome projects in the first phase of a development that will eventually add 36 new two- and three-bedroom townhomes. The project is known as the Lowell Village Townhomes.

Lowell Village is led by developer Jeremy Nelson with REgeneration Strategies. He said the initial project was split into two phases to build interest in the townhomes before fully building out.

And that interest is strong, Nelson said, as three of the first four to be constructed are already sold. The first four units should be finished next spring. His group is currently finalizing paperwork to submit to the city of Grand Junction for the second phase.

"It looks positive, things are moving in the right direction," he said.

The Downtown Development Authority is heavily involved in both projects and has supported two others on a smaller scale along Seventh Street.

For Young's project, the DDA agreed to loan $500,000 toward the project at a 2% interest rate. The loans can be forgiven if the projects hit certain milestones on time.

"It's the sort of catalytic project we're looking for in downtown," Downtown Director Brandon Stam said at the 734 Main groundbreaking.

The organization also selected REgeneration for the townhome and R-5 project.

REgeneration will also redevelop and repurpose the R-5 building if it hits certain milestones with the Lowell Village project.

Additionally, the DDA approved a $10,000 facade improvement grant for the owners of 701 Main St.

The building, which formerly held the Cabaret Dinner Theater, was purchased last year by Brad Humphrey and Rob Hanson. The two fixed up the building, which has been sitting vacant since 2008.

Humphrey said the space is leased and is slated to become a bar in the coming months.

"It's nice to get it going again and get it back," Humphrey said.

Chase Bank hopes to open a new branch at 660 Rood, at the northwest corner of Seventh Street and Rood Avenue and recently came to the DDA for support as it asks the city for a variance to build a one-story building on the site.

The bank's request will go to the Grand Junction Planning Commission later this month.

Stam said the development along Seventh Street is creating "bookends" in downtown. The west side has the hotels and Two Rivers Convention Center, while the east end will be a tech center with new housing.

"Seventh and Main has always held a lot of potential. Aaron kind of kicked off on unlocking that a bit with 750 Main," Stam said.

Stam added that the revitalized Avalon Theatre has also played a role in the development boom.

"I think that's definitely pretty exciting to have and it helps that the whole corner," he said.

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