Consultants will seek Aspen retailers’ input | AspenTimes.com

Consultants will seek Aspen retailers’ input

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A team of experts hired to assess Aspen’s retail environment and recommend ways to improve it will be in town starting next month for a series of meetings with local merchants.

The city will host three Wednesday breakfast meetings at the Mountain Chalet’s new fifth-floor conference room.

Each meeting will begin with a presentation on that day’s topics by one of the consultants, followed by small-group discussions among the merchants who attend. The retailers will actually vote on matters that they feel should be part of the final recommendations, according to Julie Ann Woods, Aspen’s director of community development.

“We’re looking to get as much feedback from people as we can,” she said.

Retailers and restaurant operators are urged to take part, but the lodging community is welcome, as well, Woods said.

“Certainly, they’re going to know what their guests want,” she said.

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The first meeting, on Oct. 8, will focus on such topics as market trends, competing resorts and visitor trends.

The Oct. 22 meeting will be geared toward the physical aspects of Aspen’s retail scene: What makes a retail space inviting and an evaluation of Aspen’s retail experience.

On Nov. 12, the consultants turn their attention to Aspen’s retail mix and the landlord’s perspective. Local commercial property owners will be invited to attend, Woods said.

The city will be asking merchants to RSVP for the meetings; watch local newspaper advertisements for details.

The council voted 3-2 in July to allocate up to $71,000 for the contract with BBC Research and Consulting, represented by Ford Frick, who has done retail redevelopment studies for Snowmass, Carbondale and Avon.

He also did some background work on Aspen’s Downtown Enhancement and Pedestrian Plan, or DEPP, which led to wider, decorative sidewalks and other enhancements on a block of Mill Street and a block of Hyman Avenue. The project was completed in 2000.

The consultants are assigned to study Aspen’s current retail picture, articulate the community’s goals and develop practical strategies for spurring the resort’s retail revitalization.

The firm, which is scheduled to complete its work by the end of the year, will engage the retail, landlord and business community in its analysis, according to the scope of work attached to its contract.

The consulting team will present its findings, along with options aimed at short- and long-term “stimulation of Aspen retailing.”

BBC will also analyze other resort communities to determine how their experience compares with Aspen’s.

In addition to Frick, the consulting team includes Brad Kornfield, a real estate attorney and owner/developer of retail projects; and Henry Beer, a retail designer whose projects include Park Meadows Mall in Denver.

All three men are already familiar with Aspen, according to Woods.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]

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