Silverthorne Safeway plan past deadline |

Silverthorne Safeway plan past deadline

SILVERTHORNE – The prospect of a new Safeway grocery store opening in Silverthorne continues to lose momentum, especially now that the deadline has come and gone for the project’s developer to break ground.”Currently, we have no commitment whatsoever with Safeway,” said project developer Brad Kornfeld of Kornfeld, Koslosky Properties (KKP).Last December, voters narrowly approved a controversial rezoning that would allow an 11.2-acre parcel on Smith Ranch to be commercially developed.Shortly after, KKP submitted and gained approval from the town for a 94,000-square-foot shopping center, anchored by a Safeway grocery store, but never broke ground. The approvals were valid until Dec. 19.”We are waiting to see if (Safeway) can get the project reapproved,” Kornfeld said. “They haven’t given any specific date. There is nothing imminent at this time.”Kornfeld said KKP had a signed lease with Safeway with “certain timetables that had to be met,” including a date to break ground, which KKP missed because of the three-year time span it took to get all the necessary approvals through the town.”Had we gotten the project approved in a reasonable time frame, that store would be open today,” he said.Mark Leidal, the community development director for Silverthorne, said the idea of a grocery store on Smith Ranch dates back to 2000 when Seminole Land Holdings put forth plans for Silver Mountain Village, which would have included an elementary school, affordable housing and a grocery store to be developed by KKP.By December 2002, Seminole hadn’t made a move, despite a sketch plan approval, so the town council nixed its annexation request.KKP’s 11.2 acres was already annexed into Silverthorne, so it decided to move forward with its shopping center development alone.Over the next year, the citizens voted to change the zoning from agriculture to commercial and KKP obtained site plan and subdivision approval, but by the time it was ready to build, the contract with Safeway had gone null and void, Kornfeld said.”It is unprecedented to take three years to get all the approvals for this type of development, particularly in a community without a grocery store, ” Kornfeld said. “In the end, the town is left with nothing.”He added that it’s likely that Safeway’s corporate executives haven’t shown interest in re-signing the lease because of a number of economic hardships it had recently suffered, including a labor strike in California that cost the company millions of dollars.”Wal-Mart, in particular, is creating such competition and outperforming its competitors. Chains like Safeway are having a great deal of difficulty right now,” Kornfeld said.Ultimately, that meant that Safeway had to trim labor costs and had very little capital to start up new projects, especially in small markets like Silverthorne, Kornfeld said.Kornfeld has approached at least six other national chains to anchor the development, but said, so far, not one has been in a financial situation to come on board.Supporters of the development are discouraged that plans to begin construction seem to have fallen through.”Obviously, it’s a disappointment to go through all the ups and downs and the shenanigans, and then have nothing to show for it,” said Silverthorne Mayor Lou DelPiccolo.But, the town council is open to considering ideas from other serious developers.”We’re interested in having something that is concrete, not pie-in-the-sky or purely speculative. We welcome a specific project with a specific timeline. We’re not interested in replicating what we’ve just gone through.”Councilmember Howard Hallman, who was outspoken about his opposition to the Smith Ranch development, said now is the time for Silverthorne to concentrate on developing and revitalizing its downtown core.He highlighted the renovation of the Silverthorne Factory Stores and the lease agreement with developer Peter Cudlip to build retail shops adjacent to the Silverthorne Pavilion as projects that will put Silverthorne in a good position to capitalize on the Interstate 70 traveler.”I don’t want to judge what people should and shouldn’t do as far as future commercial development, but I think it makes sense to put the commercial development where the people are,” Hallman said.But, Leidal said the other side of the coin is that Silverthorne is spreading north and it makes sense to put a grocery store nearby new neighborhoods so people don’t have to drive all the way through town to do their shopping.KKP is “ready and able” to develop the parcel, but it can’t move forward without Safeway’s support, Kornfeld said.He has every intention of applying for a second site plan approval if it gets a firm, signed agreement with the grocery chain.”The issue is when and if (Safeway) is ready, will the land still be available?” Kornfeld asked.Tom Garvin, owner of Smith Ranch, is keeping his fingers crossed.”I hope the new contract is ironed out and Safeway will be knocking on Brad’s (Kornfeld) door and Brad will be knocking on mine,” Garvin said.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 229 or at

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