The Field Museum in Chicago announced Aug. 30 that, beginning early next year, it will display “the biggest dinosaur ever discovered,” Patagotitan mayorum, found in Argentina in 2008.
More than a century ago, the Field Museum began displaying another giant replica of a dinosaur, an Apatosaurus that was uncovered at a site now called Dinosaur Hill, south of the Colorado River near Fruita.
Elmer Riggs, a paleontologist working for the Field Museum at the turn of the last century, spent two seasons working in the Grand Valley — in 1900 and 1901.
He made his first big discovery at the site now called Riggs Hill, near the intersection of South Broadway and South Camp Road on the Redlands. There, he and his assistant, H.W. Menke, recovered the shoulder, ribs, vertebrae and leg bones of a Brachiosaurus.
There’s not a lot of commercial or residential development out in Loma and Mack, which is just the way most people who live out there like it. Most of the land is zoned agricultural, and there is no existing infrastructure to accommodate higher density development, which puts a huge damper on housing.
“We need sewer,” said Kay Simonson, senior planner with Mesa County. “We’re still looking for ways to fund the repair and upgrade of the Mack sewer plant and to ultimately implement the Loma plan. We will need to get sewer there somehow.”
Until there is available sewer for higher density housing, Mack and Loma are likely to remain exactly what they are: agricultural communities that also offer urban dwellers an opportunity to enjoy a hobby farm, if they can afford the price.
“Everyone I talk to wants a one- to three-acre parcel with a nice home,” said Geri Robinson with Robinson & Co. Realty. “Small acreage parcels move quicker than large farms. If we had things closer to the $400,000 price, they’d move quicker.”
Of the 29 total listings in Loma and Mack, 25 of them are priced for more than $400,000, which puts it out of the reach of many buyers who would enjoy having a little piece of land.
“Inventory is not as plentiful as it has been in years’ past,” said Mandy Rush with RE/MAX 4000, “but we’re still seeing nice properties that are available.”
By Penny Stine
Monday, July 10, 2017
Housing is in high demand in the north area, with both building lots and new homes selling quickly.
Freedom Heights is a development of 22 homes near H and 26 Road, with large lots, a walking path along Leech Creek, and good views of the Bookcliffs, the Grand Mesa and Colorado National Monument. Linda Kramer with RE/MAX 4000 listed the lots last August, but infrastructure construction didn’t get started until a few months later.
“Contracts started coming in when we were doing infrastructure,” Kramer said. The infrastructure was complete by the middle of May, and lots continued to sell quickly.
“I only have two lots left,” Kramer said.
Lots in the neighborhood, which is within the city limits of Grand Junction and has sidewalk, sewer, curbs and gutters, are about 7/10 of an acre. Their large size allows home owners to build a shop, have a garden and enjoy a little elbow room.
The owner of a 150-acre adjacent parcel of land that was slated for development years ago took notice of the brisk sales at Freedom Heights and decided to resurrect plans for Weminuche, a residential development of 303 single-family homes.
Continue reading about Grand Junction’s North Area.
There’s a lot to love about Glade Park. It’s beautiful, with little traffic, so while the commute may be longer than some have in the Grand Valley, it’s a pretty commute, especially when the weather cooperates. Neighbors are generally far-flung, thanks to the minimum 35-acre lot size zoning, but there are opportunities for neighbors to get to know each other if they wish.
Glade Park has a small community center, which is the place where neighbors can socialize for coffee, picnics or cowboy poetry.
Glade Park also has a volunteer fire department, which holds it annual fundraiser throughout the summer at the “Movies Under the Stars” program. Entrance to the movie is always free, but the concession stand is operated by the fire department, and all proceeds go toward training and equipment for the department. The concession stand opens at 5:30, while the grill opens at 6 p.m. and remains open until the movie starts.
Movies at Glade Park are always family-friendly, starting whenever it gets dark enough to see the big screen. There’s also family-friendly live entertainment from 7 to 8 p.m., as well as a hayride, volleyball and drawings for prizes.
The Redlands is about to get a variety of new housing options, thanks to a townhome development near Redlands Mesa Golf Course currently under construction and a few single-family home projects that are also in the works.
Existing housing, especially if it’s priced anywhere close to the median Grand Valley price of $215,000 for a single family home, moves quickly in the Redlands.
“I put a house on the market (in the Redlands) for $279,000 and it had two showings immediately,” said Janice Burtis with RE/MAX 4000, “and six the next day.”
Burtis said that she’s also seeing more expensive properties selling quickly and selling above the asking price.
“It’s good news for sellers, but really hard on buyers,” Burtis said.
Burtis is the listing agent for the lots at Pinnacle Ridge, a 70-lot subdivision that is still in planning stages near Mariposa Drive. The developer is waiting for final approval from the city planning office to begin infrastructure construction on the first two phases, which total 21 lots.
This new Asian restaurant, Ginger, should open within the next month or two in the northwest area on Patterson Road near Highway 6 & 50. The owners also own the popular Chin Chin restaurant in Clifton.
“It’s mostly people moving around,” said Theresa Englbrecht with Bray Commercial, who added that she arranged a five-year lease with a Denver business owners on an industrial property in the northwest, and is closing on another big property in the northwest next week. She’s anticipating getting two additional listings soon, and has already had people approach her who are interested in the properties.
“Folks who are here are expanding,” Englbrecht said. “No one is reducing.”
Whitewater and Gateway
The Whitewater area is zoned, approved, and ready for growth, with available sewer and water to many areas.
“There’s been plenty of planning done in Whitewater,” said Linda Dannenberger with the Mesa County Planning Department. “Clifton Water is ready for growth; there’s a sewer district. Land’s End Fire has been formed as a taxing district. CDOT did a highway access plan. We put a land use plan in place with zoning.”
Grand Valley Growth
New retail spaces, refurbished office buildings, new production facilities for business and new restaurants are all signs of increased commercial activity and optimism in the local economy. Other long-term construction projects are nearing completion, with two new highly anticipated healthcare facilities getting ready to open their doors to the general public.
The Center at Foresight, 606 E. Foresight Circle, is finished and going through its Medicare certification process while also serving a few pro bono patients and waiting for the final approval from the state to open its doors to the general public. A grand opening of the transitional and rehabilitation facility is scheduled for June 1.
Opportunities for more lodging and dining are prime-picking in Palisade
By Penny Stine
Monday, May 8, 2017
There is new activity in Palisade, with several businesses hoping to open in time to provide services to residents and the many guests who come to Palisade in the summertime.
Varaison Vineyards will hold a ribbon cutting for its new cider tasting room and bistro, 13 Brix, on May 13 at 1 p.m., or 1300 hours, if you speak military-style. Andrew West, the cider maker and son of Varaison’s founders, Andrew and Kristin West, has been working on the the bistro for more than a year.
“We’ve been working on the remodel for 18 months; we’ve been trying to do it without digging a sucking hole of debt,” West said. The building, which started out as a convenience store, has also been a video store and stood vacant for almost three years before the Wests purchased it with the intent to turn it into a tasting room for their hard cider, Forbidden Fruit.
When 13 Brix opens, it will have a limited menu, along with five different ciders. In addition to apple with Saigon Cinnamon, the bistro will have pear vanilla, blueberry lavender, cherry and peach ciders, all available for drinking on site or bottled so customers can take their favorite flavor home.
Palisade will soon be able to offer more options for visitors who want to stay in town. There is construction activity underway at Palisade Basecamp RV Resort, where the owners plan to offer two country home units, 12 cabins, 71 RV and trailer sites, six standard tent sites and 13 primitive sites.
“The goal is to have it all open, all at once, but in reality, we may have portions done and ready for opening, while still doing finishing touches throughout the month of July,” said Keith Ehlers, one of the partners in the project. The business has received lots of calls and requests from visitors who are eager to make reservations to stay at the resort, and are willing to stay even if the swimming pool isn’t quite operational or the landscaping isn’t fully installed.
Although it’s not currently listed for sale, there is a large greenhouse facility that the partners are hoping to sell eventually to someone who is interested in a large-scale local food production business.
There is also some progress at the Palisade River Ranch, the glamping facility where there are currently two vacation rental homes available on the 100-acre site. The ranch also hosts special events.
The look of downtown Palisade is changing, with new outdoor dining options at the Palisade Cafe and the 357 Grill. The town of Palisade built and installed the patios.
“It’s a project we’ve been trying to do for years,” said Rick Sales, town administrator. “The intent is to create a more active streetscape environment.”
There are a few vacancies in high-profile office or retail spots in downtown Palisade, creating an opportunity for businesses or entrepreneurs who have always wanted a Palisade location, such as JUB Engineering, which recently moved into new office space at 305 Main St.
By Penny Stine
Monday, April 17, 2017
If you’re thinking about buying a new home, selling your existing home, curious about the local market or just looking for an excuse to tour local homes, mark your calendar for next weekend’s Grand Valley Open House Weekend. Local area Realtors will have homes open both Saturday and Sunday, so be sure to check the special section promoting the event that will be in the newspaper on Friday, April 21.
The Grand Junction market has changed in recent years, so if you are thinking about making a real estate buy or sale, make sure your real estate agent is knowledgeable, with up-to-date information.
“Make a wise decision in who you use to represent you,” said Ron Walz with River City Real Estate. “Make sure the agent does the comps. Don’t forget to ask questions. Make sure they’re doing the research and providing you with a service.”
Those who are interested in buying a new or different house, especially if they’re looking for a home that’s priced under $300,000, need to be able to act quickly if they see a home they like.
By Penny Stine
Monday, April 3, 2017
The northeast part of town continues to be an affordable area for housing, with ongoing new construction in several neighborhoods and plenty of existing housing. While some retail areas in the northeast are seeing vacancies, others are seeing bright spots on the horizon, with new tenants and new life bringing new services to area residents.
Brett McGlothlin, the owner of the Planet Fitness franchise that will be opening in Teller Arms Shopping area on North Avenue, worked for quite a while to secure the location for the gym.
“I started working on the deal in November of 2014,” he said. “I absolutely wanted the location; it puts me right in the middle of town.”
McGlothlin also owns a Planet Fitness facility in Aurora, and when he bought that franchise, one of his conditions was that he would be given the option to open up a second gym in Grand Junction.
Planet Fitness gyms offer memberships starting at just $10 per month, and that membership includes small group classes that start out early in the morning and go on all day.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Infrastructure construction will start soon here at Aspen Village, which will be a 22-lot residential subdivision on the corner of Aspen and Pine in Fruita.
Fruita continues to carve out its own niche in the Grand Valley, pursuing opportunities to advance its reputation as a good place for recreation, for families and for businesses that want to embrace the small-town atmosphere.
The town of Fruita is getting close to having the plans finished for the Kokopelli portion of the Colorado Riverfront Trail, which will be a four-mile extension of the trail from Fruita to Loma.
“Our anticipated construction start is August,” said Ture Nycum, director of parks and recreation for the city of Fruita. Construction will be ongoing through the fall and winter, and the new portion of the trail should be open in the spring of 2018.
The town has also been working with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA) to improve the mountain bike trails and the access near Mack Ridge.
“There’s a trailhead parking lot, but no trail,” Nycum said. “COPMOBA is starting construction of a trail that will go from the Mack parking lot; it will be a connector that takes people on top of Mack Ridge.”
Homebuyers who are hoping to find a brand new house at an affordable price in a nice neighborhood that’s convenient to everything should take note of Pear Park North, a 68-lot subdivision near 30 Road and D 1/2. Steve Voytilla with GJ Homebuilders has developed the neighborhood, and he is also one of two exclusive builders who are building homes in the development.
Voytilla purchased the raw land from the bank and decided to do the development himself. It’s taken about nine months, but he had the full cooperation from the city of Grand Junction, and he also received help with financing and mentoring from Ben Hill with Hill and Homes Real Estate.
“Ben was instrumental in getting this project started,” said Voytilla, who has worked in the local real estate market for years, primarily as a real estate agent for another builder. Pear Park North is the first development he’s done with his own company, GJ Homebuilders. It won’t be the last, as he has another parcel of land he hopes to develop when Pear Park North is built out.
This is not, however, the first neighborhood in which Voytilla’s company has built homes. He has previously built in Heritage Heights in the north area and on Bear Dance Drive in the southeast area, just a few blocks from Pear Park North.
As 2016 winds down, Real Estate Weekly takes a look back at 2016 to note the good, the better and the lovely, because it’s Christmas and no one wants to read about the bad and the ugly. The good news is that the real estate market is moving in a positive direction.
According to the November Bray Report, the year-to-date median sales price, at $203,000, in 2016 is 6 percent higher than YTD median price in 2015; the YTD number of properties sold was up 11 percent over 2015 and the days on the market was down 11 percent, going from 84 to 75.
Those are respectable numbers, even if they don’t wow like the numbers from the Front Range. For our marketplace, which hasn’t seen a huge increase in jobs and employment prospects, those numbers represent an opportunity for homeowners who bought when the market was high to breathe a little easier.
In spite of rising values, real estate remains affordable for average buyers in Mesa County, which is the better portion of the story. According to the Bray report, there were 3,062 properties sold through the end of November. Almost half of those properties sold for less than $200,000, and 80 percent of all properties sold were priced under $300,000.
As independent contractors, real estate agents have a little more flexibility in their schedule than a person who is required to be in an office from 8 to 5 p.m. every day. That flexibility, along with a strong sense of community, makes Realtors the perfect people for charitable organizations to have on their side, as organizations like the Salvation Army, Roice-Hurst, the House, Hope of the Grand Valley, Community Food Bank, Latimer House, Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, March of Dimes and dozens of others have discovered.
“We’re all giving people, and our business relies on the community,” said Lita Farley with Rockstar Realty. “As a community-based business, we want our community to know we’re here and we’re willing to help.”
Brandon Estates, a Fruita subdivision off K Road near 18 1/2 that gives families roomy homes and large lots, was initially brought to the Grand Valley real estate market in 2007, when the infrastructure was built for the first phase.
The housing bust interrupted, and the development was stalled for a while, then slowly began to fill out as builders bought lots and built homes.
While some ag buyers are searching for a bare bones property, with an emphasis more on yield per acre than lifestyle, there are others who are searching for space in a beautiful setting, with opportunities to have animals, raise specialty crops or just grow hay to feed those hungry horses. This week’s unique property at 1957 N Road north of Fruita fits the bill for those looking for a certain lifestyle.
The property includes a spacious and gracious 6,000-plus square foot home with a two-car attached garage, an additional detached two-car garage and guest casita; a large heated shop with a two-bedroom caretaker apartment; a barn with a working kitchen, tack areas and animal wash areas; 25 irrigated acres for hay; a covered hay storage structure, vinyl-fenced pastures with animal shelters and five beautifully landscaped acres surrounding the house. Oh, yes, there’s a saltwater pool out back, too, with a pool deck that’s set up for a large family with lots of friends.
There has been a fair amount of commercial real estate activity this fall, and commercial brokers suggest various reasons for it. For some projects, the necessary regulations, paperwork, title issues and construction delays have finally been resolved, so progress can continue. For some buyers, timing and price are working together to create the right conditions to buy.
Regardless of the exact reason, commercial properties are selling, new businesses are getting ready to open, and one long-awaited public project is also underway, with hopes that it will also spur economic development.
When the Real Estate Weekly staff looks for a unique property to feature in the Sunday paper, we often end up featuring a home that a majority of residents can’t afford. But unique doesn’t have to equate with expensive, as this week’s unique property at 572 28 Road demonstrates so well.
Built in 1900, this property was most likely the original farmhouse for a much greater parcel of land than the quarter-acre on which it currently sits. It was given a complete remodel in 2016, and the splashiest new features include a great master suite with a four-piece bath and a walk-in closet with a window, built-in shelving and lots of storage. Since closets were often non-existent in homes built in 1900, a tiny first floor bedroom was sacrificed to make room for the master bath and closet, and it’s a worthy sacrifice, since the home has two other bedrooms upstairs and one non-conforming bedroom downstairs.
We saw trends, we saw colors, we saw great views and we saw cool design features at the 2016 Parade of Homes. This year, there were more than 3,300 attendees, which tops the numbers who attended the 2015 parade.
Almost half of the homes in the 2016 were custom homes, but the good news is that the other homes were homes in subdivisions where the builder is currently working or were homes that are similar to homes he’s building (or plans to build) elsewhere. Those who attended the Parade and fell in love with any of those homes can plan on buying a home that’s very similar to the one they loved in the Parade.
It’s the final weekend of the 2016 Parade of Homes, and if you’re thinking that it would be fabulous to own one of those large, award-winning custom homes on the golf course and it’s too bad that the two Redlands Mesa parade homes, as well as the one near Tiara Rado are already sold, then this unique property at 322 Iron Horse in Redlands Mesa Golf Course Community is just for you.
Built in 2012 by Zag Built, the home was the People’s Choice award winner in the 2012 Parade of Homes. Like every Zag Built home, it’s Energy Star-certified, and the owner’s highest utility bill since 2012 was just $90. Pretty good for a home that has more than 4,300 square feet.
In Mesa County, there are a lot of unique properties with amazing views. Whether the views showcase Mt. Garfield, Grand Mesa, the Colorado National Monument or the Bookcliffs, there are spectacular natural features in just about any direction. Some properties, however, simply show off the views better than others.
Such is the case with this week’s unique property at 3334 F Road, in the unincorporated area between Grand Junction and Palisade. The 21-acre property is tucked away off a dirt driveway, in between Interstate 70 and Highway 6. In spite of its location, it’s also amazingly quiet, picturesque and a great agricultural property. It also has one of the best views of Mount Garfield in the entire Grand Valley, with a fairly spectacular view of Grand Mesa, to boot.
Healthcare construction continues to drive the commercial building activity in the Grand Valley, with two rehabilitation facilities along Patterson currently under construction and expected to open in 2017. A new assisted living facility off Horizon Drive is also currently under construction and expected to open in 2017.
Capella of Grand Junction, which got underway in June, will have 40 assisted living and 26 memory support apartments in its facility.
The town of Fruita continues to grow, attracting residents who are drawn to the small-town atmosphere, the proximity to recreation and the town’s commitment to fostering a place that people want to call home. Town officials are constantly trying to grow, yet maintain the atmosphere that makes Fruita so unique.
“I went to Eurobike with the mayor,” said Mike Bennett, the Fruita city manager. “We’ve been doing a lot of business recruitment.”
Eurobike is one of the largest bicycling industry shows in the world. Bennett was invited to go by Tim Fry with Mountain Racing Products in Grand Junction. “We thought it was crazy to go to Eurobike when Tim Fry talked about it.”
As one highway project begins winding down, another is almost ready to start on Orchard Mesa, where Colorado Department of Transportation crews are finishing median improvements on Highway 50. That project is expected to be finished by September. A city trail project is expected to start in October.
“We’re out to bid now,” said Trent Prall with the City of Grand Junction engineering department. “We will be receiving bids in a couple of weeks and hope to start construction in the beginning of October.”
While the city center portion of the North Avenue streetscape improvement is winding down, other projects in the city are breaking ground, in planning stages or just starting the conceptualization process.
If you haven’t driven on North Avenue from First to 23rd and paid attention to the improvements, take a short drive and try to remember what it used to look like. Better yet, get out of the car and walk, especially on the sidewalk next to Lincoln Park. That sidewalk is now wide, spacious and far enough from the busy street that it doesn’t feel as though you’re tempting fate to be on it.
Residential construction is back in the southeast area, where existing subdivisions are getting built out and where several developers and builders are working on new subdivisions.
“We’re just booming,” said Ted Martin, about construction activity at Wexford Estates near D 1/2 and 29 1/2, where four different builders are building homes. Brent Pruitt with Pruitt Homes has two pre-solds at Wexford, with two more that he plans on starting within the next few weeks.
Ron Abeloe with Chaparral West has four homes currently under construction at Wexford Estates, and has options to build on 11 more lots in the neighborhood.
The Redlands Mesa Golf Course community is probably one of the oldest developments in the Redlands where there is still new construction activity. Originally developed more than 15 years ago, there has been renewed interest and activity at the golf course community in the last two years.
“For the last year and a half, it’s been about 15 (homes under construction) at any one time,” said Carol Powers, administrator for Bright Star Redlands Mesa Sales, the real estate branch of the golf course. There are 19 homes currently under construction. “This is as busy as we’ve ever been when it comes to construction.”
The northwest area includes not just the acreage between Grand Junction and Fruita north of Interstate 70, but also extends south of the interstate all the way to the river, encompassing retail areas along Highway 6 & 50, as well as the area around the new Community Hospital building. Within the northwest, there are retail, commercial and industrial users, as well as urban residential, small acreage estates and larger rural parcels.
While parts of the area are included in the boundaries for the Persigo Wastewater Treatment plant, other parts are not. In many places, the land is within the boundary, but the sewer lines haven’t been extended yet. There can be no high density residential developments without sewer.
The city planning office is working on one such project with Senergy Builders, which is proposing a 63-lot subdivision on a 20-acre parcel in the northwest area off 21 1/2 Road south of I Road.
Glade Park gives Mesa County residents who want a rural lifestyle and a true sense of remoteness and peace a great option. Although it is at the top of an extremely winding road through Colorado National Monument, those who live up there often say the commute is the best part of their day, giving them an opportunity to appreciate their surroundings and unwind as they make their way home after work or errands.
Although Glade Park does have a post office, a community center and a general store, it is a true rural destination. Most of the available properties have at least 35 acres, and it’s not unusual to have huge ranches, with hay production, grazing and even hunting on the property.
The Whitewater, Unaweep Canyon and Gateway area is one of the larger real estate areas in Mesa County. Considering it’s semi-rural, it’s also has a fairly diverse array of real estate possibilities.
Portions of the Whitewater area, closer to the old town area, area have both sewer and water, thanks to infrastructure investments from Clifton Water and Clifton Sanitation, making them suitable for more urban development.
Other portions of area have been designated for greater industrial development, and there are large industrial and commercial parcels of vacant land available for sale.
The fruit is forming on the trees, the festival season has already started and the first spring wine tasting event occurred a couple of weeks ago. Palisade is springing to life again for its busy season.
While the area didn’t see many visitors over the winter months, business owners took advantage of the down time to relocate, expand and get ready for growth this season.
Ron and Kristin West, owners of Varaison Vineyards, along with their sons, Andrew and Alex, have been hard at work remodeling a downtown building to transform it into a new tasting room and restaurant, 13 Brix, for the family’s hard cider.
Some people want to live where there’s constant activity, with plenty of entertainment, dining, shopping and other urban amenities, like sidewalks, bike lanes or street lights. Others crave peace and quiet, where the biggest news is a traffic light that was installed almost a year ago.
The traffic light, which is at the intersection of Highway 139 and Highway 6 & 50 in Loma, was a $1.6 million CDOT project that included left-turn auxiliary lanes on each leg of the intersection, as well as improved drainage and local irrigation improvements.
Those who have lived in Loma for decades still have a tendency to stop at the intersection when they’re on Highway 139, even when the light’s green.
Home construction in the northeast area is gaining traction, with new phases of existing subdivisions currently in the works and new homes available at affordable prices.
John Davis with Blue Star Industries is working with city planners on infrastructure plans for Arbors III, a continuation of a subdivision that hasn’t seen a new home built since 2012. Blue Star will develop the lots and sell them to other builders for the construction of the homes. Prices for the lots haven’t been determined yet, but Amanda Potter, the listing agent for Blue Star, said they will be affordable lots, suitable for first time buyers.
The town of Fruita is gearing up for the busy spring biking season, and visitors and residents will both appreciate some of the changes that have taken place over the winter. The city made some infrastructure improvements in the downtown area over the last year, and businesses have embraced the concept, hoping it will have a positive impact on their bottom line.
“We’re just starting to see a difference,” said Mike Bennett, city manager with Fruita, about the downtown improvements. “A lot of the restaurants have put fencing out, with tables and umbrellas.”