The commercial market is hot right now, with sales of long-available properties, plans moving forward on large-scale commercial developments, and enough confidence in the local market for projects of all sizes.

As those who have paid attention to national auto parts retail chains opening in Grand Junction know, the town has gotten large enough to attract the attention of national retailers. At Mesa Mall, the demolition of the former Sears store is on pace, and construction of the new, larger Dillard's store scheduled to start within 30 days. Construction should probably take about a year, so plan on including a trip to Dillard's for your holiday shopping in 2020.

Although the sale hasn't closed yet, another national retailer is looking at the former lumber building at 240 North Ave. In spite of the increase in online shopping, retail is obviously alive and well on the Western Slope.

All across Colorado, craft breweries are alive and well, too, and once again, Grand Junction has finally gotten large enough for craft brewers to realize there's more room for another craft brewery here than on the Front Range. Three different craft brewing companies are in various stages of development and construction.

The sign is already up at Monumental Beer Works, 2575 US Highway 6 & 50, although it will be months before the brewery pours its first draft. Two local investors purchased the building, which used to house a scuba business, and a group of investors are working to open the brewery. The building's renovation design is being done by Kraai Design, with Zag Built chosen as the local general contractor, so expect the building to get a major makeover. The building has two large outdoor areas, which the brewery will turn into patios, with one serving as a family-friendly patio, with lawn games and old-school playground games like hopscotch and foursquare, while the other one will be restricted to ages 21 and older. Monumental Beer Works has no plans to include a kitchen in its renovation, but is working to develop great relationships with area food trucks.

Plans and building renovation continues at 330 S. Second St., where Foam and Folly Brewery is still working through various permitting processes. The building's renovation will include building a second floor on top of the 70-year old structure, which necessitates a fair amount of structural improvements. The building's new use as a brewery, rather than the auto repair shop it was once upon a time, also requires more infrastructure and behind-the-walls, under-the-floors attention. That, combined with the overall busyness of the local construction market, makes the owner, Jeff Reed, reluctant to speculate on a date when the brewery will be up and running.

"Steve (Steve Josephs, owner of Madison Construction, general contractor of the project) is indicating it will take four to five months, but I'm frankly thinking it will take longer," said Reed. "From a brewing perspective, the sheer fact that you're putting thousands of dollars of plumbing, combined with the different types of plumbing required by the residence on top, could mean lots of delays."

City planners recently approved plans from another brewery, Ramble Bine Brewing, which hopes to close on a downtown building within the next few weeks. The owner, Eli Gerson, grew up in Grand Junction, graduated from Fruita Monument High School, but ended up on the Front Range. He's excited about this opportunity to come back to the Grand Valley and contribute to the downtown atmosphere. Like the other two breweries, Ramble Bine won't have a restaurant as part of the business plan, but will focus on making good beer.

Elsewhere, progress is being made behind the scenes on a few large commercial projects, with physical construction starting tomorrow (Aug. 5) at 734 Main St., the new technology-embracing building at Seventh and Main, where Merritt Sixby with Merritt Construction will serve as the general contractor for the four-story office building. Dale Beede is continuing negotiations with tenants at Rivertown Center on Patterson, and brokers Becca Posner and Sam Suplizio have started discussions and plans for a different type of mixed use development on vacant land near 12th and Wellington.

The construction of the new Timberline Bank building on 24 Road is on track, and the bank has four retail pad sites available for sale. Jen Pedersen with Coldwell Banker is listing the four one-acre sites.

The building at 2515 Foresight Circle, which used to house the former Grand Junction Athletic Club and has been vacant for nine years, recently sold to a group of local investors, who are redeveloping the building.

In spite of the three craft breweries in various stages of development, there is no one industry driving all of the commercial activity. It's spread out across a variety of industries, which is a healthy sign for the local commercial real estate market.

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