Creating Vibrancy Through Connectivity, Placemaking, and Development
Grand Junction, Colorado | 2019
The City of Grand Junction is a hub of economic activity and vibrancy on the Western Slope of Colorado. The community is proud of the small-town vibe, which is characterized by strong, local arts, culture, and history—and at the heart of it all is the downtown. But Grand Junction is growing and changing. Long characterized as being“a place where Coloradans retire” and an economy driven by the ebbs and flows of oil and gas, a new generation is being attracted to the community for the abundance of recreation opportunities and quality of life. With this growth pressure and a Plan of Development that is 38 years–old, the Downtown Partnership did not have a tool to guide development in the downtown reflective of the current community’s values or current market demands.
Through a yearlong process branded“Vibrant Together,” we worked with the Downtown Partners and local community advocates to develop ideas for how to build on Grand Junction’s current successes and bring a new energy to downtown. Through“walkshops,” focus groups, community surveys, pop–up events, and community open houses, we listened to concerns and ideas from hundreds of community members and downtown businesses. The goals that emerged focused around activating downtown and connecting to the river.
A week–long Design Workshop formulated specific ideas, designs, and strategies of how to achieve these goals with a focus on three key elements of downtown; connectivity, placemaking, and infill development. To help the community better understand the ideas and strategies, we engaged in a social media campaign with project videos, blogs, and a Q&A session that reached over 24,000 community members.
Before it was even adopted, the Downtown Partnership had utilized the Plan of Development in applying for a Great Outdoors Colorado Grant to build an Artline(an interactive art exhibit) from Main Street to the Colorado River. In October 2019, the Downtown Partnership initiated a community crosswalk painting event as a part of their downtown ArtFest to rally the community around connecting Main Street to Colorado Ave. As a result of this process, the City and DP are working together on a detailed design for the 2nd Street Promenade and Pedestrian Bridge to Dos Rios, as well as strategies along the 7th Street District that can be incorporated into the City Comprehensive Plan update. One of the more exciting outcomes is the purchase of an identified opportunity site, the Startek Building, which had been vacant for nearly five years. Inspired by the visualizations and feasibility analysis from the workshop, an international development firm is now working on a catalyst project to bring housing and mixed–use to this key site along the 7th Street corridor.
The plan was adopted unanimously by council in November 2019. The Downtown Partnership will continue to work with project partners at the City, Grand Junction Economic Partnership, Arts Commission and many others to keep the momentum of Vibrant Together going.