Whole Foods won’t be alone in new Willits building | AspenTimes.com

Whole Foods won’t be alone in new Willits building

Scott CondonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

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BASALT – When construction is complete on the 47,000-square-foot Whole Foods building at Willits Town Center in Basalt next summer, it will feature more than a grocery store.Whole Foods will take about 27,000 square feet in the building, leaving another 20,000 square feet of commercial space, said Tim Belinski, the leasing contact for the project. There will be a big push to fill that space with retailers rather than real estate offices and other service-oriented businesses, he said.The way the Whole Foods building is designed, the majority of store spaces will be about 1,900 square feet, Belinski said. Those spaces will line the entire south side of the building, looking across East Valley Road to the building that houses Smoke, El Korita and Asiana Fusion.The intent is to recruit retailers from the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout the region to lease the spaces. National retailers won’t be turned away, but the focus is on locally owned shops. “Willits will prove itself for years to come with locals,” Belinski said.On the north side of the building, facing Highway 82, there is a 4,500-square-foot space that will be ideal for a liquor store or some other type of high-traffic store that melds well with Whole Foods, Belinski said.The allure of any of those spaces is having an anchor such as Whole Foods so close, Belinski said. That is likely to be attractive to a large pool of retailers.About 40 construction workers were at the Whole Foods site on Monday as the steel framing of the building was taking shape. Crews working with a crane swung large steel columns into place while concrete workers poured the floor of what will be the building’s underground parking garage.JE Dunn Construction is the contractor on the project. The national company has offices in Colorado Springs and Denver. Nearly all the subcontractors are companies based in the Roaring Fork Valley, according to a representative of the contractor.Framing for a portion of the roof will be erected next week, and the building will be “boxed in” toward the end of November, representatives of the construction firm said.Whole Foods Market anticipates opening the Basalt store next summer.Work on the Whole Foods building stalled in September 2008 when former project owner Joseph Freed & Associates ran out of financing as the recession hit. The lease with Whole Foods expired. Much of the foundation and infrastructure was completed, then sat abandoned for three years.A subsidiary of Kansas-based Mariner Wealth Advisors acquired the majority of the Willits Town Center, including the Whole Foods building, in May. Mariner re-signed Whole Foods as an anchor tenant.The natural and organic grocery chain once envisioned a 47,000-square-foot store in Basalt. Once the economy cratered, it downsized its plan by more than 40 percent.Mariner has also teamed with the town of Basalt to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Willits Lane and East Valley Road. Gould Construction, the contractor on the job, is bound by contract to complete the project by Nov. 11. The company has been racing the weather to complete it sooner, and collect a financial bonus.”At this point, we are optimistically estimating an earlier date for completion, which will be a relief to many,” the Willits websites says.Crews on Monday were preparing to add a second layer of asphalt to the roundabout and approaches. The lanes must be stripped, sidewalks completed, signs added and lighting installed before Nov. 11. Some of the landscaping also will be planted.scondon@aspentimes.com