Less than two weeks after voters approved a ballot question to allow the city to approve 99-year leases at the Riverfront at Las Colonias business park and some of the surrounding area, one company is already getting its work underway.
RockyMounts became the first business to dig in at the 15-acre park Friday afternoon as the company officially broke ground on its new headquarters.
"There's been a lot of hard work by a lot of people to get here today," Grand Junction Economic Partnership Executive Director Robin Brown said during a ceremony that was attended by various city and business leaders from around the Grand Valley.
RockyMounts Owner Bobby Noyes thanked the community for its support and noted that the move has not been easy. However, he said he was attracted to the area due to the quality of life for him and his employees, the community and the lifestyle of the Grand Valley. He is happy to get moving.
"It's been a long trip," he said.
The formerly Boulder-based maker of car bike racks, bike locks and more than 50 replacement parts committed to move to Grand Junction in June 2018, joining Grand Junction outdoor recreation company Bonsai Design at the new business park.
The company seemed poised to start work on its new headquarters earlier this year, but hit some snags in getting started.
Noyes moved his company to Grand Junction in mid-October and is currently working out of a warehouse near the intersection of Riverside Parkway and 29 Road. All of his employees should be in Grand Junction by the start of 2020 and he hopes to hire more.
Prior to last week's election, the city could only approve 25-year leases on public lands. Voters had previously rejected a question in April that would have allowed the city to permit 99-year leases on all public lands.
Noyes told The Daily Sentinel prior to the election that he had concerns that the business park would not be successful if voters said no to the ballot question again.
Brown had previously said that some interested businesses had balked at committing moving to the business park because of the lease issue.
GJEP Board Chair and Enstrom Candies President Doug Simons, who spoke at the groundbreaking, said that resolving the lease issue will "open the floodgates," and bring more outdoor recreation businesses to the park.
"It's so crucial to the success of the park," he said.
Noyes will own his new 20,000 square-foot, two-story building, but will pay either a monthly or yearly fee for the land. Contracts are handled by the Las Colonias Development Corporation, an entity created to negotiate with businesses about the park. He expects the facility to open in July 2020. The 99-year leases for RockyMounts and Bonsai should be finalized by the end of the year, Brown said.
Bonsai Design, which specializes in building zip lines and other outdoor attractions, is slated to break ground early next year, Brown said. Bonsai helped launch the business park and will partner with the city to build a zip line across the Colorado River between Eagle Rim Park and Las Colonias.
Noyes concluded his remarks on Friday with a "warning" to city leaders and asked for responsible growth in an area he believes will receive a lot of interest from people like him who are looking to escape the big city.
"Grand Junction is the last cool, affordable town in Colorado," he said. "In my experience, all cool places get ruined. We need smart growth and planning to maintain our ethos. I've seen this rodeo come through town. We want some of the horses, but not the stable."