Phase two of the downtown Grand Junction improvement project is finally complete and business owners on Colorado Avenue now have reason to celebrate.Sometimes to move forward you have to make changes and that's exactly what's happening in downtown Grand Junction. "In order to invest you must upgrade." says Kathy Dirks of the Downtown Partnership.
But in a time business is down anyway, cutting off customer access was a big concern for businesses and for businesses on Colorado Avenue they expected the worse. "We were nervous going in to it, they tore out our sidewalk and we were worried about customers getting discouraged." says Bill Keith, owner of Quilters Corner "It's very hard to do construction without impact to businesses," says Dirks. For most store owners, they made the best of a bad situation. "We turned it into a big event, we had little hard hats all over the store," says Keith. And weathering the storm wasn't as bad as some expected. "We were pleasantly surprised that during the time it was shut down we had good business," says Dale Park, owner of The Shoe Man. Brad Steward of Bicycle Outfitters agrees, "it definitely slowed us down a little bit but we went forward and actually did pretty good."
The main goal of the project is to encourage development and increases property value, and it's already noticeable.Tim Chism was looking to start a new business and Colorado Avenue was a perfect fit, "certainly Colorado Avenue redone was a huge incentive for us." And he is already reaping the benefits of this extreme makeover. "Huge benefit, people love the ease of coming downtown to walk to several businesses and enjoy the beauty."
Because now that it's all over, everyone is happy again. "It's wider, lighter and safer, so all is a positive effect," says Keith. Which makes moving on to the next step, Main Street, an easier transition for business owners that are about to go through it. "Honestly I think the main street project will probably go better because they learned a few things," says Cheryl Lucas of Crystal Books & Gifts.
Because in the end, the plan is to expand downtown shopping. "Downtown is more than just main street," says Dirks. Colorado Avenue is celebrating their new look with a ribbon cutting ceremony in the middle of the 400 block, Friday at 10am.