North Avenue in Grand Junction Colorado gets
Residents of Grand Junction, Colorado and Mesa County are aware that North
Avenue is the ugly stepchild of the city. The downtown area takes care of itself
and Mesa Mall seem to do OK. Hwy 6 & 50 gets attention and the Riverside
Parkway is done. Completion of 29 Rd is moving along. Patterson Rd seems OK.
No one seems to complain about Hwy 50 on Orchard Mesa.
North Ave. just doesn't seem to hit the news as much as it should. For the record,
North Ave is the third busiest street in Colorado; right behind Colorado Boulevard
and Wadsworth Boulevard in Denver. Grand Junction Principal Planner Dave
Thornton said, "We don’t want North Avenue to look like Colfax Avenue (in
Denver).” Ouch, but accurate. Thornton said planners are seeking a cohesive
vision for North Avenue, but that doesn’t mean the entire road will look the same.
A North Avenue Corridor Plan adopted in December 2007 acts as a road map for
new development east of 12th Street. The road is U.S. Highway 6, so it also is
managed by the Colorado Department of Transportation. As it stands, there has
not been a funding source identified for the city to redo roads or build other
infrastructure to create a cohesive look.
The good news is businesses and enterprises along the often congested road
only stand to look better as time goes on. Already a few bright spots along the
corridor fit in with the city’s plan. As new development moves in, the area will
better reflect a unified vision for the avenue.
Residents and business owners met twice for focus groups in August to discuss
their vision for the west end of North Avenue, between First Street and 12th
Street. In December, the city will sponsor its first open house for the public to
chime in with their thoughts for the 12-block stretch. Improvements in the look of
the area may have to come from businesses. Horizon Drive businesses taxed
themselves to make improvements in that area. Those kind of issues will be
explored during the upcoming open houses.
Two new developments west of 12th Street reflect the changes city planners
want to see: the new Fiesta Guadalajara, 710 North Ave., and the new Mesa
State College dormitory and retail shops at 10th Street. In general, new
development along the road should be moved toward the street, with parking
along the sides or back of businesses. Requirements call for removing excess
entry points into a business. Planners and developers refer to the concept as
"infill development," that of using the building itself as identifying image rather
than signage and parking as the entrance. Just because a building has a North
Avenue address doesn't mean the main, attractive entrance has to be there.
Further east on North Avenue, developer Bruce Milyard, a partner at Western
Constructors, has gained city approval for a two-story, 48-unit apartment
complex off 28 1/4 Road, east of Kmart. The apartments will face the road, and
parking will be in the back. A bus stop is slated for the front of complex. Another
example of "infill development." To comply with the regulations, his company
must build a public road for access, so residents will not access the apartment
complex directly from North Avenue. This is a tough sell, added development
cost to developers.
City planners also are looking at options for bike lanes and ways to make
crossings safer for pedestrians, but there are no easy answers to increase the
size of the road. Mesa State College continues to grow.
Golfers have made it crystal clear that tampering with the fifth hole in the Lincoln
Park Golf Course is a no-no. Or more specifically, anything less than nine holes
is unacceptable. Beneficial widening of North Avenue seems out of the realm of
possibility. Did I read "bike lanes?"
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