GRAND JUNCTION - Ceremonial shovels full of dirt always signal the start of something new. But soil scooped up Tuesday in a riverfront field that used to be covered with uranium tailings has extra import. It promises to be the start of Grand Junction's own little version of Denver's LoDo.
The groundbreaking for an Edgewater Brewery and bottling facility follows nearly 15 years of waiting and planning on the part of Jim Jeffryes and Eric Ross, who opened another brewpub in Grand Junction seven years ago. Their development follows years of work by the city to turn what used to be a contaminated eyesore into an attractive extension of downtown.
"It was just waiting for someone like me to come in and be crazy," said Jeffryes as he mingled with rootbeer-sipping local officials who celebrated the unusual groundbreaking.
Jeffryes bought land along the Colorado River in 1998, five years after it was cleaned of mill tailings. He made the purchase five years before it was fronted by the Riverside Parkway that has funneled increased traffic to that section of town.
The site of this second Kannah Creek Brewing Co. brewery is in an area that is undergoing other transitions from heavily industrial to a mix of residential, commercial and industrial.
The Western Colorado Botanical Gardens was one of the first non-industrial enterprises to move into the scenic area that is laced together by a paved riverfront trail. The city created a 160-acre Las Colonias Park along the path that is yet to be landscaped and developed. The city also has identified a site for an outdoor amphitheater and possibly a community recreation center.
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