Target, other discounter key to Carbondale mall’s success |

Target, other discounter key to Carbondale mall’s success

Scott Condon
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The 252,000-square-foot Crystal River Marketplace will succeed only if it features stores enticing enough to lure shoppers who would normally blow right by Carbondale.

A feasibility study performed for the town government stresses that the Marketplace must sign an anchor tenant that can draw shoppers from around the region ? from Aspen to Silt. Smaller spaces probably won’t be filled with tenants until a so-called big-box retailer takes some or all of a 125,000-square-foot space in the project, according to the feasibility study by BBC Research and Consulting of Denver.

Developer Brian Huster is courting Target as the prime anchor, and he wants City Market to relocate from its current site in Carbondale and become his secondary anchor.

A discount store like Target is needed, according to BBC Research, to prevent shoppers from the Roaring Fork Valley from spending their money outside the area.

“Ultimately, the majority share of the Marketplace’s sales will have to come from capture of sales currently leaking from the market to larger comparison markets in Denver and Grand Junction,” said the report.

“This scenario is most probable if the Crystal River Marketplace is successful in attracting a uniquely strong brand ? such as Target ? that is capable of drawing shoppers from a considerable distance because of its image of style and value,” the report continued.

@ATD Sub heds:The lineup

@ATD body copy: After two years of review, the Carbondale Town Council directed its staff last week to prepare approval documents for the shopping center. Formal approval could be granted on Feb. 11.

After that, there is one final step that must be taken that’s really just a formality. When that step, called final plan, is taken, the approvals will be good for three years.

The shopping center is planned on a 25-acre site north of Carbondale’s Main Street and west of Highway 133. It consists of nine retail development lots. The major anchor site of 125,000 square feet would house a free-standing building.

A small anchor of 58,000 square feet is being pitched as the potential home for a grocery story. BBC assumed for its study that City Market will move from its existing 40,000-square-foot spot for the more spacious digs.

The site plan shows three retail sites of varying size would be connected to the grocery store. Two free-standing retail sites, a restaurant site and a gas station would round out the development.

BBC’s feasibility study labels the Marketplace a “super community center ? something bigger than a community mall but not quite a regional shopping center.

“This occurs in part because of the unusual nature of the local marketplace with its strong tourism element, pronounced community patterns and heavily regulated land use influences,” the study said.

The study assumes that the 3,332 households in and around Carbondale combined with 8,734 households in the upper Roaring Fork Valley and 13,000 households from the Glenwood Springs and Interstate 70 corridor would be enough to support the project.

An estimated 25 percent of the sales would be to tourists.

@ATD Sub heds:Competition is stiff

@ATD body copy: But competition will be stiff. The project’s ability to draw customers from the lower valley is challenged by K-Mart and Wal-Mart stores in Glenwood Springs.

Rifle has approved a commercial complex that includes big-box sites. The Willits project in Basalt includes approvals for 456,000 square feet of commercial development mixed with residential. The Wulfsohn Ranch development approved in Glenwood Springs will add a regional shopping center about the same size as Carbondale’s Marketplace, the research showed.

The population of Pitkin County and the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County was nearly 22,000 in 2000, according to the Colorado State Demographer’s office. Add the 5,200 residents of Carbondale; 7,700 of Glenwood Springs; 2,000 of New Castle and 1,750 of Silt, and the area population approaches 40,000 to support all those commercial areas.

The strength of the competition makes it all the more important for the Carbondale project to stop the “leakage” ? where shoppers from Aspen or Basalt, for example, blow by town on Highway 82 and head to Glenwood Springs or Grand Junction.

“Although Glenwood Springs has attracted comparison shoppers from a wide area in the past, the Crystal River Marketplace ? given an attractive department store anchor ? would potentially recapture this leakage,” the study said. “Grand Junction represents a competitive draw to the west and the Avon Village Center currently in development in Avon limits the market penetration to the east.”

@ATD Sub heds:On Target?

@ATD body copy: Representatives of the developer told the Roaring Fork Valley Journal recently that Target officials indicated they would assess the performance of their new store in Silverthorne before deciding whether to expand on the West Slope. That could take up to two years, according to the Journal story.

The approvals for the Marketplace are good for three years, although they could be extended by the town government. Therefore, the developer has some luxury of time for Target to assess its options.

But the BBC has some potentially unsettling news for local residents coveting an opportunity to shop at Target. The study said that the Marketplace “will not be able to attract anchor tenants at reasonable lease rates if performance in excess of $400 per square foot is not achievable, and the project will not be built without anchor tenants.”

Target or any other prospective anchor will take a long look at the valley’s population projections and total personal income levels to judge if that aggressive of sales performance can be achieved.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is]