Lucinda Stanley, CCIM / Broker/Owner
Grand Mesa Commercial Real Estate
Delta County, Colorado. A once upon a time booming agricultural and mining area that over the years, has been eroding, collecting dust as vehicles speed thru downtown going to and from, pushing the speed limit to make all of lights with not even a glance at the remaining businesses lining Main Street. Some folks predicted that the City of Delta was going to be one of the many ghost towns in Colorado and that prediction was getting a little too close for comfort over the past few years. Fast forward to present day, this once sleepy town has shaken off the dust and is slowly but steadily evolving and growing. Our current civic and private community leaders are committed to restoring and improving the economy and lifestyle that was once rich and thriving.
The 3rd Quarter 2019 Economic Update reported by Dr. Nathan Perry, an Associate Professor of Economics at the Colorado Mesa University reflects this growth by quoting an increase in population by 416, an increase in employment by 360, an increase in median home values from $239,167 to $255,500 versus last year at the same time and a seasonally low unemployment rate of 3.2%. Reading further into his 11 page report, across the board, everything being tracked have increased, i.e. sales taxes, lodging taxes, household income, to name a few. Adding the population gain to last year’s number (30,953) would reflect a total population of 31,369.
What is not tracked in his report are commercial and land sales. I may be biased as that is my area of specialty, but these two factors determine the sustainability of the growth we’re experiencing and could also be used as a prediction of future growth by the absorption of land for development. Once development starts, population grows, demand on services grow and buildings that have sat vacant for years become occupied with thriving businesses thus creating additional job opportunities. Over the past couple of months, phone calls and showings for commercial space and land have increased almost tenfold. Our land prices are dirt cheap which helps with new construction projects. Our existing commercial space prices and lease rates are also extremely low affording new tenants lower operating expenses to offset the ever-increasing minimum wage.
Another index that would reflect the lifestyle of Delta County is the cost of living comparison index. For example, the Sperling’s Best Places reports that Los Angeles, CA overall is 94.5% more expensive than living in Delta County. Their median home cost is $689,500. If one had a salary of $50,000 a year in Delta, they would need to make $75.95 in Denver for the same lifestyle. Denver, overall is 44.4% more expensive to live in. Portland, Maine, the state I grew up in, is 21.4% more expensive to live in and one would need a $61,158 annual salary. Even our neighbor, Montrose County is 11.3% more expensive to live in.
In a past blog post, I predicted that Delta County was on the verge of a mini boom. What I didn’t realize then is that there are different indexes for predictions based on many factors, area being one of them. Delta County as eluted above is on a slow but steady growth pace. So slow, most don’t even recognize it, but the signs are there. The tortoise always wins, the developer who understands the tortoise also wins which makes Delta County a predictable sort after community bringing people back home to bright stars, clean air, healthy living and space to breath in a lifestyle they can again afford. My prediction – this IS the time to choose Delta County.