Is Target a possibility or an election ploy? |

Is Target a possibility or an election ploy?

The developer of the controversial Crystal River Marketplace in Carbondale isn’t giving up hope of landing Target as the major anchor of the 255,000-square-foot project.

It is premature to assume that Target will open in the Glenwood Meadows rather than the Marketplace in Carbondale, according to John Tindall, a spokesman for Marketplace developer Brian Huster. “This is not a done deal,” Tindall said.

Glenwood Meadows is a 490,000-square-foot project going through final reviews this summer in Glenwood Springs. Miller Weingarten LLC, a retail development firm working with the developer, announced last month that Target has agreed to anchor the Meadows. Target officials won’t confirm that announcement.

Tindall said there is a chance something could sour the Glenwood Meadows deal and the company could end up in Carbondale. The project’s final design must still be approved by Glenwood Springs officials, he noted.

But foes of the Marketplace claim Tindall’s speculation is nothing but an election ploy. Representatives of a group called the Carbondale Town Mothers said Huster’s group clings to the illusion of Target coming to the town to win votes for their project.

Carbondale voters will go to the polls July 15 to determine if approvals for the Marketplace granted by the Town Council last February should be upheld or overturned. The debate has spurred a contentious campaign.

The Town Mothers have launched a letter-writing campaign and are passing out material stressing that Target has made no commitment to come to Carbondale.

Ro Mead, an organizer of the Town Mothers, said there is a lot of misinformation about Target and other aspects of the project. She claimed the blame falls squarely on the development team and their style of campaigning.

“I think the town is really divided, and I don’t think the developer is helping that,” Mead said.

She cited the ongoing illusion over Target as an example. “People think, ‘Oh boy, we’re going to have a Target,'” she said. “We’re not.”

Laurie Loeb, another Town Mothers organizer, said the developers even used a Target logo on drawings of the proposed commercial center until Miller Weingarten announced Target had made a commitment to Glenwood Meadows. Huster’s organization has since stopped using the logo.

Target has become an issue because both sides know it has allure in the Roaring Fork Valley to people who care about shopping. It is considered more upscale than K-Mart or Wal-Mart, yet still has affordable prices.

Tindall said the Marketplace development team has always been up front about its potential relationship with Target. Target signed a conditional letter of intent to locate in the project. However, no major company provides a firm commitment for any project until approvals are granted, he explained.

He also acknowledged that Target officials have said recently their preference is to locate in Glenwood Springs, where there is greater access via Interstate 70.

But Tindall said the debate of Target might be a moot point, personal shopping preferences aside. The approval for the Marketplace requires the developer to sign a major anchor that is capable of raking in a minimum of $30 million of annual sales, Tindall noted. So, if not Target, it has to be a store with similar broad appeal.

“It’s a huge universe that fits that category,” he said.

The town government will have review power over the anchor that is signed. “The city has the right under that agreement to say ‘no,'” said Tindall.

Huster recently attended an annual convention of shopping center owners in Las Vegas and discovered several major retailers in attendance were exploring options in western Colorado, according to Tindall.

That information couldn’t be confirmed with Huster. Two requests for interviews in the last two weeks by The Aspen Times have been turned down through Tindall.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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