S’thorne persists in push for grocery store
SILVERTHORNE – Silverthorne town officials are discovering that wooing a grocery store into town may take some time.”We haven’t had much luck at this point,” said town manager Kevin Batchelder, who has met with a number of grocery store representatives and commercial developers in recent months. “We’ve had some interest, but nobody who says, ‘OK, we’ll be up there next week with a plan.'”The Silverthorne Town Council outlined diversifying the town’s sales tax base as a top goal for 2006, and agreed with the town’s Economic Development Advisory Committee that attracting a grocery store would be the best option to add a more stable source of revenue into the town’s coffers.Batchelder and community development director Mark Leidal have talked to folks from a slew of chains such as The Kroger Co., which owns City Market, Safeway and Albertsons, as well as smaller companies like Whole Foods and Sunflower Farmers Market. They’ve had discussions with Target about doubling the size of space it devotes to food choices – currently about 4,000 square feet – in the Silverthorne store, but Target’s corporate model prevents stores from remodeling or expanding until it’s been open for seven years, Batchelder said. Target opened in March 2003.When City Market left Silverthorne in 1998 for Dillon Ridge, it had been contributing about $800,000 to $1 million in sales tax revenue per year, or about 20 percent to 25 percent of the town’s total sales tax collections.Grocery stores are considered to be a more stable revenue generator than most retail outlets because people always need food, making grocers less susceptible to economic downturns, Batchelder said.So, why aren’t grocers itching to enter the Summit County market?Part of the reason is timing, said Brad Kornfeld, of Denver-based Kornfeld Koslosky Properties, which develops grocery store-anchored shopping centers. “Grocery chains are under huge economic pressure right now, they’re not growing like they were,” Kornfeld said. “…The smaller markets are really in a back seat position compared to larger markets; the cost of construction is a little higher, the land is very expensive.”For smaller companies, like Whole Foods, opening a store in the mountains can be expensive because they don’t have distribution channels set up to efficiently deliver goods outside an urban area, he said. Kornfeld Koslosky Properties, which manages Silverthorne’s Summit Place Shopping Center, was set to develop a Safeway-anchored shopping center on the Smith Ranch in early 2004 before Safeway backed out of the project.At the time, Safeway had conducted a study of demographics, income levels and sales of existing stores that showed there would be room for another grocer to succeed in the county despite the number of stores already in operation, Kornfeld said.”None of that has changed in a sense that there aren’t fewer people in the area, it still continues to grow,” he said.Kornfeld said if another grocer does decide to move into Silverthorne, the Smith Ranch would be an ideal location because the growth in town is headed north, and commercial developments should follow growth.The town agrees.The 11-acre Smith Ranch site is already zoned for a grocery store in its planned unit development, and is advantageously situated along Highway 9, Batchelder said.The town will continue to direct attention to finding a grocery store for as long as it takes.”It is a solid goal and it’s a longer term type of thing where if we don’t get a grocery store in 2006, we’ll still try in 2007,” Batchelder said.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13625, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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