Will grocery store grow?
City Market is exploring an expansion and a remodeling of its El Jebel supermarket, its largest store in the Roaring Fork Valley, according to a company official.City Market applied to the town of Basalt to add 9,000 square feet onto the 52,500-square-foot store. A map filed as part of the proposal shows the company would blow out the back wall of the store and expand to the south, using part of the employee parking lot.The company hasn’t decided yet whether to pursue the expansion, according to Trail Daughterty, a spokesman for City Market and King Soopers, both part of The Kroger Co. If City Market undertakes the project, it wouldn’t be until late 2007, he said.Adding space would expand the existing departments. The company also is interested in adding a full-service specialty meats and seafood section as well as a cheese shop, Daughterty said.The project is being explored as a way to increase customer service and to respond to demands. The deciding factors will be cost, return on investment and competitive influences, according to Daughterty.The El Jebel City Market has been the 800-pound gorilla in the grocery business since 1994, when it vacated its spot near downtown Basalt for the store in the Orchard Plaza development. The store appears filled to capacity at times – during rush hour on weekdays and many hours during weekends.The company has a near-monopoly between Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Clark’s Market has a store at City Market’s old spot in Basalt, but has struggled to find a concept that makes it competitive.City Market has stores in Aspen, El Jebel, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs. In addition to the Clark’s Market in Basalt, it faces competition from Clark’s in Aspen and from Safeway in Glenwood Springs.Willits Town Center developer Michael Lipkin said he hopes to land a specialty grocer in his development slightly upvalley from the El Jebel City Market.Ace Lane hopes to attract a natural foods store to a 45,000 to 55,000-square-foot space in a project he hopes to develop in the El Jebel area, across Highway 82 from Willits. His project is under review by Eagle County.The Basalt planning commission will take its first look at City Market’s proposal with a visit to the El Jebel store tonight.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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