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.”
At Home-ah in Loma
By Penny Stine
The west end of the Grand Valley is a great place for people who want an agricultural lifestyle or who simply want to be out in the country, away from noise, neighbors, and traffic. Loma and Mack are home to few urban or suburban conveniences, although there was recently a planning hearing for a new 300-foot cell tower north of Loma that could improve telecommunications to residents in the Lower Valley. Loma has a school, a post office, and a general store, while Mack has a liquor store and a post office. Loma is also home to the Western Slope Cattlemen’s Auction, although that isn’t exactly a suburban amenity.
Loma does, however, have a food truck, which is pretty urban for the laid-back farm community. Of course, the food truck serves barbecue, offering traditional offerings like ribs, brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken and all the traditional sides.
“I live out there,” said Beth Burt, who operates Double B Barbecue and first set up her barbecue trailer at the Western Slope Cattlemen’s Auction on Wednesdays during the auctions while the restaurant was closed. “I developed a Loma following.”
Burt has been operating at the Loma Country Store Thursdays through Sundays since April, and she’s pleased with the amount of business she’s had.
“I’m meeting so many different people,” she said. “It’s funny how much traffic is through that little place.”
Although the urban amenities in Loma might be lacking, there’s no shortage of recreational opportunities. Loma is home to the famous Fruita mountain biking trails at Horsethief Bench, which have garnered Fruita a world-class reputation for mountain biking, even though the trails are in Loma. A majority of the riders in the area are from out-of-the-area in the spring and fall, but this time of year, it’s mostly locals who go out and ride early in the morning before the heat makes it unbearable. According to statistics from the BLM, there were 58,000 people visiting the Kokopelli trailhead in 2017.
The city of Fruita is currently building a bike trail that connects the Colorado Riverfront Trail system from where it currently stops in Fruita to Loma. The trail is paved, with a single track trail running roughly parallel to the paved portion for mountain bikers who are in Fruita and want to ride to the trails. The opening of the trail has been delayed due to various construction issues, but the final bridge over Reed wash is scheduled to be built on Aug. 1, and the trail should be open to mountain bikers and road bicyclists the following week.
Loma is also home to Highline Lake, which is a refreshing, nearby place for locals to go for boating, fishing, paddle boarding or swimming, especially this time of year when the heat is relentless. Those who prefer their water recreation on a river can also find adventure in Loma, where there’s a boat launch on the Colorado River that takes adventurers on the 25-mile, Ruby-Horsethief section of the river to Westwater, Utah. Thanks to the permitting system for campsites, the BLM is able to track the number of people who float that section of the river, as well as where they’re coming from. In 2017, 21,000 people came through that section of the river, and according to Collin Ewing with the BLM, about 85 percent of them are from outside Mesa County.
Real estate in Loma and Mack is selling, although not as briskly as in other parts of the Grand Valley where buyers can find 2,000-square foot homes in neighborhoods full of other, similarly priced homes. Because the tiny Mack sewer system is not accepting new taps and there is no sewer system for Loma, most available tracts of land or properties for sale come with acreage. Some are small acreage parcels of one to five acres, and others are larger parcels with hundreds of acres that are used strictly for agricultural production.
“Hay prices have doubled in the last year,” said Mandy Rush, a RE/MAX 4000 agent who handles many horse and agricultural properties across the Grand Valley. “There’s a lot more interest now than in past years in productive farm ground. So much farm ground in the north and in Fruita has been developed; if you want a large parcel of farm ground, you have to go to Loma and Mack.”
Rush has a Mack property with 295 acres in six parcels, with a shop and utilities, as well as gated pipe and pivot irrigation that’s currently in grass alfalfa hay production. The property has been on the market for about three months, and she’s already received three offers on it, although none of them have been accepted at this point.
The drought and fires in many hay-producing areas across the western United States have led to increased hay prices, which Rush said has been good for agriculture in the Lower Valley.
“It’s brought attention to the importance of maintaining our agriculturally productive land,” she said. “There’s importance and value in farm ground.”
Part of the Landscape
Those who are looking for a home that doesn’t sit on a cul-de-sac filled with similar-looking homes on manicured lots that could be in Anytown, U.S.A. might be interested in this week’s unique property at 164 Little Park Road. The home, which fits in beautifully with the surrounding desert landscape, wouldn’t look appropriate anywhere else. The exterior is true adobe and rock, and many of the rocks that are part of the house, the patio or the surrounding walkways were pulled from the ground on which the house sits.
Although the home borrows a few Santa Fe style touches, like Saltillo tile flooring in the common areas and lathe and plaster interior walls painted in bright colors, it’s a true Grand Valley marvel. Built more than 60 years ago, the home has been meticulously maintained and treasured, and its age adds to the home’s character and style.
In addition to the main house, which has three bedrooms and two baths in more than 3,000 square feet, there are four casitas on the 3.75-acre property. One is a complete guest house, with a small kitchenette, a full bathroom and an open living/bedroom. Another is an artist studio, while the third casita is a playhouse and the fourth is used for tool storage. The casitas are all stone with wood accents, and they all look like historic structures that should be in a national forest somewhere in the southwest, as they’re surrounded by cacti, pinions and junipers.
The inside of the home is as unique as the outside, with architectural finishes and amenities that would simply be too costly to replicate today. The interior walls that aren’t lathe and plaster are stone, rustic wood or metal. The ceilings are a gray-toned aspen plank that has aged marvelously, while the floor in the living area is flagstone.
The views from the living window are also impossible to replicate. Sitting above the Grand Valley off Little Park Road, the northern walls of the living area are all windows, with views that start in Palisade and run all the way to Mack. Because of the home’s unique position almost right next to Colorado National Monument, it has views of that, too.
The kitchen has bright tile countertops, an island with a sink and storage, great cabinetry and top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances, including a six-burner Wolf range. There’s a small, informal eating area next to the kitchen, and a larger, more formal dining area off the main living room.
The home has several fireplaces, including a large rock fireplace that serves as a partial wall separating the living area from a smaller, private sitting area. The living room also has access to the patio on the back side of the house, which features those same fabulous views, along with room for a table, two built-in barbecues, and a wood-burning stove. There’s also a stone walkway along the entire back of the house, with access doors to the master bedroom, the man cave, and the wine cellar.
The master bedroom is large, with a unique master bath that includes a sunken, traditional Japanese-style bathtub. The man cave, which is large enough for a pool table and an office suite, shares a wall with the master suite but must be accessed from the outside door. Likewise, the climate-controlled wine cellar, which shares a wall on the opposite side of the house with the private sitting area, must also be accessed from the outside.
The house has evaporative cooling and baseboard hot water heat, but the thick adobe and stone exterior walls tend to keep the interior of the house at a fairly moderate temperature, regardless of what the weather is outside.
Craig Huckaby with Bray Real Estate is listing this unique desert home for $699,000. There is no sign on the property, and the house is impossible to see from Little Park Road, but interested buyers are welcome to call the Huckaby Team at 970-640-9918.
Infrastructure is almost complete at Fox Meadows, home construction should start in about a month. The development is 37-lots on D-1/2 Road, less than a quarter mile from Chatfield Elementary School.
Fox Meadows is the result of many local subcontractors
By Penny Stine
Fox Meadows, a new subdivision off D 1/2 Road west of 32 Road, is almost ready for home construction. Grand Junction Real Estate Investments has developed the 37-lot neighborhood, with the help of several other local subcontractors.
“This was truly a joint effort by some of the best subcontractors in the Grand Valley,” said Steve Voytilla with Grand Junction Real Estate Investments, who wanted to give credit and kudos to Poundstone Construction, which installed the water and sewer infrastructure, CW Construction, which did the pit run and road base, Adcock Concrete, which installed the sidewalks, Martin Construction, which installed the asphalt, and United Companies, the material provider for the concrete and asphalt.
“I like to use several smaller subcontractors,” Voytilla said, adding that the workmanship provided by all the companies was exceptional. He was also impressed with the equipment and technical expertise offered by CW Construction. “They’re a local company, run by two young brothers. All their equipment is GPS-guided, top-notch.”
The photo of the kitchen is of Pear Park North homes, that worn multiple awards in 2017 Parade of Homes and this house uses the same floor plan as will be used in Fox Meadows.
Voytilla’s construction company, GJ Home Builders, will be the exclusive home builder in the neighborhood. Although he doesn’t expect to start construction of the first homes at Fox Meadows until the first of July, he already has one pre-sold in the neighborhood. He plans to start spec homes, starting a new foundation every week throughout the remainder of the summer.
Voytilla plans to build homes using the same floor plans he used at Pear Park North, a 68-lot subdivision he started building in 2016 and continued throughout 2017.
“At Pear Park, we’ve built 30 homes in the last year,” Voytilla said. “I would never have guessed at how quickly Pear Park sold.”
There is still one filing left at Pear Park North, where GJ Home Builders will continue building homes while it starts building at Fox Meadows. Voytilla entered a home in Pear Park North in the 2017 Parade of Homes to help bring more awareness of the neighborhood to buyers.
“It won every award in its price category in 2017,” Voytilla said. “There was not a single upgrade in that Parade home. Everything in it was standard.”
All of the features and finishes that people love in the Pear Park homes will be used in the homes at Fox Meadows. Homes will have stucco and stone exteriors, with architectural shingles on the roof. Upgraded cabinetry and granite countertops are also standard.
The homes at Fox Meadows will have either three or four bedrooms, and some three-bedroom homes will have three-car garages. The four-bedroom floor plans all have three bedrooms. Homes take 90 days to complete, so those who make reservations now through Ben Hill with Hill and Homes Real Estate could be moving into their new home by Thanksgiving.
There is irrigation water available in the neighborhood, which will be a great benefit to homeowners, as the lot sizes are a bit deeper than typical new subdivisions. Most of the lots are between 60 and 65 feet wide, and about 115 feet deep. Home sizes will range from 1,520 to 1,750 square feet, with prices ranging from $259,900 to $285,000. The neighborhood is less than a quarter-mile away from Chatfield Elementary School, making it a good option for families.