Whole Foods likely to open in 2010 | AspenTimes.com

Whole Foods likely to open in 2010

BASALT ” The Whole Foods Market in Basalt probably won’t open until 2010 due to the chain’s flurry of development in the Rocky Mountain region, a company official said Wednesday.

The goal is to open the Basalt supermarket as soon as possible, but the company also is working on two other projects in Colorado and one each in Idaho and Utah, said Regional President Will Paradise.

“It’s probably more early 2010 than late 2009,” Paradise said of the Basalt opening.

The grocer is designing new stores in Salt Lake City, Boise, Southglenn in Denver, and it is expanding its store in Boulder. In each case, contractors will turn over the shell of the building, then Whole Foods will finish the interior. Its crews cannot be in all places at once, so work will be prioritized as the shells are completed.

The 44,000-square-foot supermarket at Willits Town Center was given final approval by the Basalt Town Council on Tuesday. The supermarket proposal got caught in political crossfire over additional residences the developer wants to add in the Willits core. Once Joseph Freed and Associates, the Willits Town Center owner, split the application for the supermarket from the 120 new residences, Whole Foods sailed through the review process.

Work on the Whole Foods building will begin April 1, according to Tim Belinski, vice president-development for Joseph Freed and Associates. But the project involves much more than just that building. The contract with Whole Foods requires the developer to have the exterior work completed on a nearby building so that construction staging doesn’t spill into the 200-vehicle surface parking lot serving the grocery store, Belinski said.

Work will be simultaneous on a massive underground parking structure that will serve the core of the Willits Town Center.

Belinski said Joseph Freed and Associates is working on an agreement with a construction firm called Clayco to build the next phase of the project. Clayco, which has offices in Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit, is finishing work on the Market Street Lofts building at Willits.

Joseph Freed and Associates must turn over the shell of the building to Whole Foods by June 1, 2009. It will take the grocery chain four to six months to finish the interior ” once its finish crew is assigned to the project, Paradise said.

Paradise said he never regretted proposing a Basalt store despite the delay in the review and the controversy. He said he is thankful for the community support and is anxious to prove the benefit a Whole Foods Market will provide Basalt.

“I think it’s a great location,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a successful store. We’re thrilled to be coming to this marketplace.”

This wasn’t the first time Whole Foods ran into opposition. Some people in Santa Fe, N.M., were concerned that a store there would generate too much traffic and wouldn’t be the right fit for the community. Similar concerns have been expressed by some Basalt residents, but support seemed widespread.

The Santa Fe store was built about eight years ago and is one of the most successful in the Rocky Mountain Region, Paradise said. He is confident that Basalt will be, too.

“It’s the right people. It’s the right psychographics. It’s the right demographics.”

Demographics are variables such as age and gender. Psychographics are attributes related to personality, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyles. Retailers depend on the work of companies that perform customer segment profiles ” which delve into psychographics ” when they decide if an area is the right fit for them.

The Roaring Fork Valley’s high concentration of families and individuals with high incomes, high education levels, discerning tastes and active lifestyles helped attract Whole Foods.

The website for Whole Foods Market shows that scores of stores are under development across the country. Seven of them ” four in California and three in Hawaii ” are smaller than the 44,000 square feet in Basalt. However, the vast majority are 50,000 square feet or larger.

Paradise said smaller stores can work in high-density areas with lots of foot traffic. But bigger stores produce higher sales.

A decade ago, the 40,000-square-foot store in Boulder was the largest in the chain. Now that size isn’t considered large. The Boulder store will double in size when it takes over adjacent space being vacated by a bookstore.

Paradise said the company wanted to build a space in Basalt that would serve needs for the future, not just for today. They don’t want customers finding the store and parking lot too cramped after a few years.

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