Starbucks wants to serve El Jebel | AspenTimes.com

Starbucks wants to serve El Jebel

Plans for expanding the City Market in El Jebel include adding a Starbucks coffeeshop. (Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times)

Ready or not, El Jebel has hit the big time in the coffee world.Starbucks plans to open a coffee shop in the City Market in El Jebel when the grocery store expands this winter, according to a representative of King Soopers/City Markets.Jeff Pelaez, an architect working for City Markets, said the chain wants to add 9,040 square feet to its El Jebel supermarket, pushing the size from 52,500 square feet to 61,500. The company aims to break ground this fall and have a grand reopening within six months of when construction starts.

The southerly wall, facing the Sopris Village subdivision, would be punched back to gain the 9,000 square feet, Pelaez said. Most of the addition will be used to expand the existing departments in the supermarket, Pelaez said Tuesday night at a Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. The only new element to the store would be the Starbucks coffee shop in the entrance.The announcement is sure to please legions of java junkies but also alienate people who prefer small, locally owned businesses.City Market currently enjoys a near monopoly; Clark’s Market in Basalt is the only competition, but that could change. Both the Willits Town Center project, upvalley from City Market, and the Tavaci proposal, across Highway 82, are courting natural groceries. It was unclear if the prospect of competition is fueling City Market’s plans.The Basalt planning commission passed the chain’s expansion plan with little fanfare Tuesday night. When the town annexed the supermarket in 1995, City Market retained the right to add up 10,500 square feet of space – taking much of the debate out of the review.

The one eye-opener during Tuesday’s hearing was the strange math applied to the parking issue. City Market wants to add 9,040 square feet and 10 employees. However, it would subtract parking.The expansion would eliminate 24 employee parking spaces behind the building. City Market didn’t specify where the workers would find alternative parking.Many midvalley residents already consider the customer lot dysfunctional and inadequate. The rows of parking spots are crammed together, making fender-benders a common occurrence. The lot is close to capacity at the busiest times.

City Market maintains the parking lot is adequate without adding spaces. Pelaez said the 275 spaces will exceed town code requirements by 20, even after the expansion.The Town Council will review the project next.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com.