Evolving North Avenue attracts attention

Kevin Bray
Kevin Bray

Grand Junction business owners are giving North Avenue a new look as the city works to revitalize the corridor.

Although there have been efforts for the past 20 years to give North Avenue a new life, the latest efforts will include reconstruction of a section of the corridor from 12th Street to 23rd Street in September. The reconstructed portion will include wider detached sidewalks, bus pullouts, landscaping strips, pedestrian lighting and median improvements that promise to improve both the appearance and function of the corridor. The city has nearly completed the design of the remainder of North Avenue between First Street and 29 Road, making the project shovel-ready as funding becomes available.

As a commercial corridor, North Avenue has always benefited from high traffic counts that rival any in town. Large retail centers include Wal-Mart, Kmart, Eastgate Shopping Center and the soon to be redeveloped Teller Arms site.

According to Sid Squirrell, a broker with Bray Commercial in Grand Junction who handles the leasing of the Eastgate Shopping Center,  “The economic factors are improving along the corridor, rents are relatively low and now is a good time to secure a long-term lease.”  The Eastgate Center is more than 80 percent occupied, but still offers 17,000 square feet of available space.

The Veterans Affairs Hospital, Stocker Stadium, Lincoln Park and Colorado Mesa University, one of the largest economic drivers in the city, all are all located along North Avenue. CMU enjoys rapid growth with increasing student enrollment and additional student housing that adds to the number of potential customers on the street.   

In addition, North Avenue is surrounded by the highest density of housing in Grand Junction. City land use planning and zoning support higher densities along the corridor.  More rooftops means still more warm bodies on the street, which is good for retailers The Peppermill Lofts, a 48-unit apartment complex near North Avenue, is fully occupied. “The demand for modern market rate affordable apartment housing has been evident since completing construction just a few years ago,” said Jay Moss, the owners representative.

If there’s one thing North Avenue doesn’t lack, it’s diversity. North Avenue has around 400 businesses, including everything from banks, car lots and cell phone providers to hair salons, hardware stores and tattoo parlors. Several old-fashioned motor inns are located along the corridor, as are such long-standing businesses as Board and Buckle, Grand Mesa Medical Supply, Johnson’s House of Flowers and Weinerschnitzel.

If you want it, you can get it on North Avenue.  If you can’t find it on North Avenue, there’s an opportunity to create it and there’s a space for it. When it comes to commercial real estate, North Avenue offers an abundance of choices. North Avenue properties for sale or lease range from 800 square feet up to 27,000 square feet, presenting opportunities up and down the corridor.

No update on North Avenue would be complete without mentioning a potential name change to University Boulevard proposed by local promoter Levi Lucero. While many business owners and community leaders have voiced their support for such a change, others are concerned about the time and cost associated with letterhead and sign changes. Whether for or against, the ongoing debate keeps the spotlight shining on the corridor and, well, University Boulevard does have a nice ring to it.