Company officials aren’t ready to confirm it, but it appears the specialty grocery store hoping to come to downtown Steamboat Springs will be a Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage.
Documents on file at the Steamboat Springs Planning Department reveal that a Montrose-based real estate development entity, VC Steamboat I LLC, has filed an application for a change-of-use permit and another application for a minor exterior modification to allow a “specialty grocery” in an existing building at Lincoln Avenue and Third Street.
The contact information for VC Steamboat I listed on the permit application is another Montrose entity, Leadership Circle LLC, the principal of which is Matt Miles.
An article published in February in The Billings (Mont.) Gazette, states Miles is the developer ready to deliver a new Natural Grocers store by the end of June to a struggling shopping mall in Billings.
Vitamin Cottage Director of Marketing Nancy Flynn said Tuesday that she had no paperwork giving any indication that her company was looking at a new store in Steamboat, but she said that did not rule out the possibility. She added that it’s common for her to not learn about a new location until all of the details have been formalized.
“When it’s official, everyone in marketing will learn of it and we’ll send out an email blast and add it to the company Web page as ‘coming soon’,” Flynn said.
City Planning Director Tyler Gibbs said the permits for the new store could be approved administratively — meaning without a vote of Steamboat Springs City Council — pending a traffic study needed to sort out the flow of cars making left turns at the intersection.
Until this week, the building housed David Chase Rugs and Furniture. Owner David Scully told the Steamboat Today in early March that the building was under contract for sale. Coincidentally, the original use of the building was as a City Market grocery store.
Well-established, independent health food store Healthy Solutions already operates in a second 2,596-square-foot building in the parking lot next to the 11,000-square-foot building going through the city planning process.
Healthy Solutions owner Linda Carlton previously told the Steamboat Today that she intends to stay. Gibbs said this week that planning staff has talked with representatives of the developer about the importance of ensuring that Carlton’s customers will continue to have adequate parking and access to her business. He said those conversations also were shared with Carlton.
Flynn’s comments to the Billings Gazette revealed that the company is thorough in researching new locations and that it gathers data to “discover the soul of a town or neighborhood” to decide whether it will fit the company philosophy of “do no harm.” Among the information the company seeks before opening a new location is whether people there are outdoor enthusiasts and support education. Vitamin Cottage also wants to know whether the local population already buys from Natural Grocers online.
Miles, the developer, told the Gazette that he felt fortunate to have found an existing building in Billings that met his criteria for traffic, demographics and rooftops. Miles could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Gibbs said the location at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue has adequate parking for the additional grocery.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com