Shopping for tenants

Elk River Crossing owner optimistic about filling center

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— Byron Chrisman is optimistic that there will be a great deal of new commercial activity on the corner of U.S. 40 and Elk River Road south on Steamboat's west side in coming months.

Chrisman said he believes he's close to signing new tenants for vacant spaces in Elk River Crossing, which features Clark's Market as its largest tenant. And he said he's close to signing a contract with a developer who would build a gas station and convenience store with a major fast-food outlet on that corner.

"I need to create traffic out there," Chrisman said. "Hopefully traffic that will stop a lot of people from going through town. I'm expecting a contract for a fuel station and convenience store, possibly with a fast-food place inside the store. I'm cautiously optimistic that will get approved."

Chrisman said architect Eric Smith had a tentative meeting with a representative of the city planning department and came away feeling moderately encouraged.

The one sure thing Chrisman has is a contract for a new tenant, who intends to open an infant and toddler store on the far end of the shopping center, closest to Jailhouse Drive.

Bethany Deblasis is the owner of Rock, Rattle and Stroll. It will offer new and used maternity clothes, infant and toddler clothing, strollers, nursery furniture, car seats and books and toys. Deblasis said she anticipates opening the store by June 15.

Chrisman said he has been working hard on attracting a traditional breakfast and lunch restaurant and he thinks he has his favorite restaurant in Boulder ready to enter the Steamboat market.

"I've been eating there for 20 years," Chrisman said.

The restaurant, which has locations in Boulder, Lyons and Fort Collins, would occupy the corner space close to Arctic Liquor, Chrisman said. The primary stumbling block is hiring a restaurant manager and meeting his or her housing needs, he said. But the owner is engaged in talks with several candidates.

Chrisman said at the end of February that he was willing to offer potential restaurant tenants several months of free rent and reduced rent for the balance of their first year. He has also offered to build the "tenant finish" at his expense.

If the restaurant deal goes through, Chrisman said a popular Denver bakery is interested in taking a spot in the same wing of the shopping Center.

"If those stores come in, we would fill the rest of the building where the liquor store is located," Chrisman said.

"That would leave 6,000 square feet in the building on the west end, plus 900 square feet next to the dry cleaners."

Chrisman said he's had nibbles from businesses, including a golf equipment store, a dentist, a cell phone company and a beauty salon/spa. There have been many other inquiries, but he feels strongly that the most important thing is to add retail to the shopping center.

"One thing I've learned is that retail in that town is really, really tough," Chrisman said.

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