At the April 24 Stapleton Development Corporation meeting, Forest City President John Lehigh responded to a question from Justin Ross about a grocery store in Eastbridge.
‘There are a tremendous number of misperceptions out there. We do believe we’ll get the grocery deal done. And we’re still going to have a town center and we’re still going to have a plaza. As with many things you read in the newspaper, you can’t believe everything. I think at the end of the day we’ll be well-received and very successful.
“There are certainly those who don’t like the idea of having a big store. I can tell you we’ve talked to every small grocer in the world and there is nobody who wants to be there. They (King Soopers) came to us about a year ago and said, “Our store here is oversubscribed. We need more capacity and they started the dialogue. It’s literally been over a year. They move at a slow pace. Every piece of every deal they do gets approved at their headquarters in Cincinnati. There is no moving them at our pace, but we’re reasonably confident that this will get approved by their committee sometime this summer and we’ll then be able to announce we have a contract and a schedule for the store. They literally came to us and said, “We’re tapped out across the street.” That was a really big step.
“Over the last number years, I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve talked, and talked several times, to all the other markets. If you look at Eastbridge and you look at the map, you have to remember that everything in the north half of the quadrant is industrial or nothing and those demographics don’t work for a lot of stores. There are great demographics at Stapleton.”
An SDC member asked about the rumor that Whole Foods was going to come in and that pressed King Soopers and now they’re going to build the fresh foods market.
Lehigh: “There’s absolutely no truth to that. Whole Foods would have nothing to do with us. King Soopers isn’t doing a fresh food market. That’s not what they’re building. It’s a trend in the industry (to build bigger stores). Remember King’s is the super dominant grocery in this market. I think they have over half the business in the metro area, which is unheard of for grocery store chains. They’re usually fairly close together percentage wise. I think they’re in the 60 percent range and everybody else splits up the other 40 percent.”