Developer Whitney Ward said he is "holding off some national chains" that have expressed interest in his new commercial center in an effort to find a Colorado business entity that can add something extra to Wildhorse Marketplace.
A phalanx of earth-moving equipment from Precision Excavating was moving across the 8.5-acre site near the corner of Mount Werner and Pine Grove roads last week. Ward said buildings wouldn't be built until spring.
"We're trying to get ahead of the game this fall," Ward said. "We're doing over-grading and installing the drainage to get the site ready. We don't want to have to move topsoil in the spring when it's wet and heavy."
Ward says he is engaged in written negotiations with prospective tenants who could occupy close to half of the 88,000 square feet of commercial space that eventually will be developed at Wildhorse. However, he has not signed any leases and will not divulge the identity of prospective tenants.
Ward said representatives of national brand restaurant chains have contacted him. He said he wants to attract a business that has a feel for mountain communities.
"I'm looking for a unique operator who is already doing business in the mountains and can do something special," Ward said. Toward that end, he has approached existing businesses in the Glenwood Springs, Aspen and Vail areas, as well as in Steamboat.
Ward's statement that he is "holding off" some national chains should not be interpreted to mean he doesn't envision nationally branded stores in Wildhorse. His goal, he said, is to find a national anchor tenant. A likely building for that operation, Ward said, is a two-story structure that will be the largest in the center. The two-story building will have 10,000 square feet of space on each level. It will be situated toward the back of the site, closest to U.S. Highway 40.
Ward's plans also include a 10,000-square-foot office building and two 9,200-square-foot mixed retail and restaurant buildings along Mount Werner Road. A center strip of buildings will hold a 6,000-square-foot restaurant, a 10,000-square-foot retail building and two 12,000-square-foot mixed retail and restaurant buildings. Ward has decided to name each of the buildings after a breed of horse -- appaloosa for example.
The first buildings to be built next season will be determined in part by the result of lease negotiations. Ward said the office building, which is close to Mount Werner Sinclair, and two main retail buildings likely are candidates.
The general contractor for Wildhorse is an international firm, Skanska, with offices in Denver. Skanska won awards this year for its completion of Main Street Station in Breckenridge. The firm was chosen from among six finalists, Ward said.
Steamboat contractor Tom Fox will serve as the owner's representative on the project.
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