By Penny Stine
The commercial real estate market has been slower to recover from the Great Recession than the residential market, which is typical, according to many local commercial brokers. Many commercial transactions are more complex, with a higher price tag than a typical 2,000-square foot home, and commercial deals often take years to work out the details, especially when there is significant remodeling that needs to be done to an existing building or new construction of a larger building on vacant land that may involve multiple tenants.
“Retail hasn’t come around and oil and gas haven’t either,” said Sid Squirrel with Bray Commercial. “The only thing that’s saved us is companies relocating here because they can’t afford to expand on the Front Range. We’ve seen a lot of people on the residential side for several years, and now we’re seeing it on the business side.”
The City of Grand Junction has been working closely with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership to bring Las Colonias Park, and Riverfront at Las Colonias, the business park intended to be a home for local businesses involved in the outdoor recreation industry, to market. Efforts are moving along nicely.
“We’re wrapping up phase one of infrastructure ahead of schedule,” said Greg Caton, city manager of Grand Junction. Phase two construction will start this summer, and should be finished by the spring of 2019. During phase two, there will be additional bathrooms, a boat launch along the Colorado River, a dog park and a festival area.
“By spring of next year, the entire project will be substantially complete, including significant amounts of grass. Phase three will be a river recreation area, which will be a public space that gives people an opportunity to get connected to the river.”
Two businesses, Bonsai Design, a manufacturer of zip lines and outdoor aerial adventure courses and Rocky Mounts, a manufacturer of car and bike racks, are planning on calling the Riverfront at Las Colonias their home, but both the city and GJEP hope that there will be many more.
Just a mile or so further west, the city is also working to update the plan for the Riverfront at Dos Rios, a 60-acre site next to the river that has sat vacant for decades. Although the city is hoping to have a conceptual plan finished for the area soon, the first tenant for the business park, Sunshine Polishing Technology, has already submitted formal site plans for review with city planners.
“There will be additional trails and public spaces at Dos Rios,” Caton said. The business park won’t have the same emphasis to recruit businesses that are involved in outdoor manufacturing, but it will be a good fit for those companies or for other companies that have a commitment or corporate philosophy of embracing the outdoors and connecting with the river.
Both of these projects have been decades in the making, and it’s an exciting time for residents who can remember when the areas were junkyards and dumping ground. It’s an exciting time for residents who haven’t been here quite that long, but who have looked forward to a better utilization of prime riverfront areas.
Elsewhere in the Grand Valley, commercial projects are moving along. Merritt Construction is currently doing an extensive remodel of the office building at 790 Wellington for STRiVE, a non-profit that provides support and services to people with disabilities and their families.
“For the first time ever, this building is designed for the clients we serve,” said Doug Sorter with STRiVE. Some of the improved amenities in the new facility will include an approved diagnostic clinic, therapeutic indoor and outdoor play areas, a nurse triage and handicapped accessible bathrooms throughout the entire building.
STRiVE looked at several buildings before selecting the one on Wellington. Ultimately, the building’s central location, with close access to the medical community and its two floors, which allow the non-profit to separate the administrative offices from the direct service areas, convinced STRiVE that it had found a home.
“This has been divine intervention,” Sorter said. “It’s been an absolutely perfect fit.”
STRiVE is currently conducting a capital campaign to raise funds for the new site; those who wish to donate can do so at strivecolorado.org.
Another long-time project is moving forward at Corner Square, a development that was started in 2008 but stalled when the economy took a nosedive. Ten years ago, Bruce Milyard with Western Constructors built one large office building at the corner of First and Patterson, as well as a group of luxury apartments, and a smaller retail building in front of those. Although the plans included another building on Patterson next to the Walgreens store that built in the development, the struggling economy resulted in a giant hole in the ground for 10 years while Milyard waited for better times to build.
Construction started in June, and the building shell will be finished and ready for tenant finishes by the end of April. Milyard isn’t ready to announce any end users in the building but has been working closely with three tenants who are interested in the location.
“We know how limited Class A office space is in Grand Junction right now,” said Milyard, who is confident that he will be able to find other tenants who are interested in the space. There is additional room at Corner Square for two additional buildings in the back. Originally, the plan was to build more apartments, but Milyard is waiting to see how quickly this commercial building fills before making a final decision on the area in the back of the development.
“I promised Pat Gormley (the former owner of the 20-acre parcel of land) I’d do something he could be proud of,” Milyard said. “It’s going to be really nice when it’s finished.”