Ellsworth committed to Curve Market

Developer says he does not have plans to sell grocery

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— Steamboat Springs developer Robert Ellsworth said he is committed to Curve Market and deli, the grocery store in Elk River Crossing he took over seven months ago.

Ellsworth said he has had offers from corporate chains for the store but that he is not interested in selling.

"Some chains have expressed interest and looked at the grocery store," Ellsworth said. "But I want to grow with the grocery store. I have a lot of faith it will be a real anchor for this end of town."

The Curve Market and Deli is the anchor of the shopping plaza designed to meet the needs of residents in west Steamboat. Elk River Crossing has gone through a myriad of changes in the last few months as the major grocery store converted to new ownership, its first restaurant opened and building got under way this summer for a fast food restaurant, gas station and convenience store.

As the grocery store was changing from Clark's Market to Curve Market, Lucille's opened, bringing in what Ellsworth said was a heavy weekend crowd. And, traffic is expected to increase this winter after the gas station, convenience store and fast food restaurant are completed.

Glenwood Springs businessman Dick Gilstrap, who is developing the gas station, convenience store and fast food restaurant, said the complex is planning to open Nov. 1. He would not say what restaurant will fill out the development. In September, he said he was talking to three major fast food companies and it was revealed McDonald's was one of them, but Burger King and Wendy's were not.

Next door, Arctic Liquor is looking for tenants to fill the space beside it. Harris Greene, who owns the store with partner Joe Armstrong, said nothing was set. And, Ellsworth mentioned a mattress store could be moving to the location.

For the 2,100 feet the plaza can expand to beside Rock, Rattle and Stroll, Ellsworth said he would like to see a barber or beauty shop and a hobby store.

Both Ellsworth and Greene see the plaza as the major retail center for the west of Steamboat residents. Ellsworth said he has had discussions about bringing a postal center to the plaza with 100 mailboxes, which could reduce trips downtown for those who live west of Steamboat.

"We want to make the center a complete area so you don't have to go across town," Ellsworth said.

He also said the plaza might be ahead of the growth planned for west end of town. Although residents have come in through the Steamboat II and Silver Spur developments and more are on the way in West End Village, the major growth projected in the West of Steamboat Area Plan three years ago has not come to fruition.

"This is probably ahead of its time," Ellsworth said.

"The plaza was built in an economic boom. Now it is an economic disaster."

But, he looks at the developments proposed in Hayden in the last month as a potential boost for his business and hopes those residents will be among the customers who stop by the store to pick up catered dinners on the way home from work.

Ellsworth said location isn't the center's only battle.

He said while business has increased in the seven months since he took over the grocery store, the store is still fighting perceptions of higher prices and less selection that linger from when the store was Clark's Market.

"We had to overcome the bad reputation of Clark's Market," said Manager Gary Cole. "It would have been much easier to start a new store than to kill their image."

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