Retail prospects improving

Debbie Kovalik

Debbie Kovalik increasingly hears what she considers encouraging words about retail development in the Grand Valley.

As the department director over economic, convention and visitor services for the City of Grand Junction, Kovalik serves as a point of contact for businesses interested in expanding or opening retail ventures in the area. She said she’s talking to more and more people about that possibility.

While talk alone isn’t going to result in the immediate opening of new businesses or the creation of new jobs, it very well could result in additional development over the next 12 to 18 months, Kovalik said. “That bodes well for the future.”

For the past four years, Kovalik has attended what’s billed as the Rocky Mountain Idea Exchange. The International Council of Shopping Centers, a global trade association of the shopping center industry, hosts the event.

Kovalik said she typically talks to one or two people at the event who express an interest in the Grand Valley.

This year, however, was different, she said. “This time, I probably had three times as many contacts as usual.”

The Grand Valley remains an attractive location for retail development, Kovalik said, because it serves as a central shopping hub for a large geographic area. Chain restaurants in particular have fared well. “There’s still a buzz about Grand Junction,” she said.

Moreover, vacant commercial spaces have created opportunities for local, regional and national retailers to expand operations without constructing new buildings, she said.

The expected opening later this year of the 29 Road viaduct connecting U.S. Highway 50 and the area south of the Colorado River directly to North Avenue in Grand Junction could present additional opportunities for retail development in that area, she added.