By Penny Stine
The commercial real estate market is humming right now, with new users, new investors, new construction and lots of redevelopment of existing spaces in multiple places across the Grand Valley.
“People are really seeing the city’s commitment to downtown and the riverside connection,” said Brian Bray with Bray Real Estate, who recently sold a building on S. Seventh Street, between Main Street and Riverside Parkway.
“My wife liked the area down there,” said Allen Akey, who purchased the restaurant building at 811 S. Seventh with his wife, Lena Combs. “She thinks it’s going to be an upcoming, growing area.”
Akey and his wife will do an extensive remodel of the existing building but hope to open their new breakfast and lunch restaurant, named Sunrise, by the first of the year.
Although there are commercial projects elsewhere, downtown is generating both buzz and dollars, as end users and investors revamp older buildings in hopes of generating more business and opportunities.
“I’ve always wanted to open my own bar, and more than anything, it came down to timing,” said Tim Babbitt, who is opening the Feisty Pint bar at 359 Colorado Ave.
“It’s more of a neighborhood pub,” Babbitt said about the soon-to-open business.
Babbitt has already hired key people, who are hiring other staff members. He hopes to have the establishment open by December 1.
The city planning office is currently working with another property owner who hopes to open a brewpub on S. Second Street.
Pitkin Avenue is also seeing redevelopment with an office building at Sixth and Pitkin changing hands and getting attention from new owners, and the office building at Second and Pitkin also getting a makeover.
“It was attractive, it was downtown,” said Tony Engelbrecht, one of the partners in the building at 215 Pitkin Ave., “and it was a free-standing building with its own parking. Downtown growth is heading south with the new hotel and renovations at the train depot.”
The historic former train depot’s owner, Dustin Anzures, is in discussion with prospective tenants, as well as contractors and tradespeople, to create the best use of the historic Grand Junction Depot building.
“We want to do the very best job we can,” Anzures said, who is looking for a local restaurant tenant to make a commitment on the location prior to finalizing plans on the building.
“We have high hopes of doing something with this building,” Anzures said, “creating something that doesn’t currently exist in the Grand Valley — a historic, landmark building that’s been repurposed. We want ours to be a happy place.”
Anzures also hopes the depot will get a safer and more pedestrian-friendly connection to Main Street and the rest of downtown when CDOT finalizes its plans for the Pitkin curve at First and Pitkin. He believes that a more pedestrian-friendly route would bring train visitors who are passing through on the California Zephyr into the more established parts of downtown. Of course, he’d also like to create great experiences for them should they decide to hang out at the Grand Junction Depot.
At the other end of Main Street, renovations are almost complete at 701 Main Street, where business partners Rob Hanson and Brad Humphrey are also hoping to attract the attention of a restaurant tenant who wants to take advantage of the great location with a large outdoor patio. The interior of the building won’t be completely finished until a prospective tenant signs a contract and dictates how it wants the inside to function.
Elsewhere on Main Street, Mesa Jewelers moved into its current space at 444 Main St. in September, after 27 years at Mesa Mall.
“The remodel was more extensive than we anticipated, but we’re very happy with the results,” said John Kelly, owner of Mesa Jewelers. “We remodeled the shop, the office, the back room, the bathroom and we cleaned up the basement.”
North of Main Street, a group of investors purchased the building at Sixth and Rood and is in the process of remodeling the space and bringing the 1954-era building into the 21st Century.
“We’re going for upscale, class-A office space,” said Matt Clark, one of the joint owners. “It will have a modern contemporary look; very bright, with lots of windows.”
When fully renovated, the building will have a solar awning as well as solar on the roof, LED lighting, fiber-optic Internet, added insulation and good sound deadening and absorption between floors.
Work continues at the Riverfront at Las Colonias, where the city continues to build infrastructure, and Bonsai Design, which will be an anchor tenant in the business park, finalizes its plans. Although building costs have risen substantially since it first started designing its headquarters, Bonsai still hopes to break ground sometime in March, and move into its 20,000-square foot building by summer, 2019.
Elsewhere, another convenience store, more self-storage facilities, additional retailers and restaurants are all under consideration and construction at various sites across the Grand Valley. Commercial activity is catching up to levels not seen since 2008 according to the Bray Commercial Report, and that’s good economic news to the Grand Valley.