When the current 58,000 square foot King Soopers opened in Stapleton in the summer of 2003, NE residents turned out to celebrate. The closest grocery store was at 13th and Krameria in Mayfair.
But, as most Stapleton residents now know, the store arrived with a condition. King Soopers would have first right of refusal to build future stores anywhere in Stapleton.
A recent Forest City statement explained that King Soopers proposed a 35,000 square foot Fresh Fare store in 2009 but it was not approved by their investment committee.
Then the recession hit. And now King Soopers says that type of store has not performed well for them and they will no longer build that model.
Most residents in and near the east side of Stapleton have been longing for a nearby grocery store just as anxiously as the NE Denver residents did in 2003. But the surroundings are different from Quebec, with more homes in close proximity, so many expected the smaller style boutique store and are disappointed that a 58,000 square foot store leaves less space for other neighborhood retail.
Forest City President John Lehigh, at the April Stapleton Development Corporation meeting, spoke about the difficulty of bringing a small grocer to Stapleton. “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.’
“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.” Forest City says signing a grocery anchor will make possible the development and leasing of the 22,000 square feet of retail west of the grocery store.
New construction at Stapleton requires review and approval of the site plan, the architecture, and the lighting and landscaping plans by the Stapleton Design Review Committee. This committee, composed primarily of architecture professionals, operates under a non-profit corporation called Stapleton Design, Inc. which, by agreement with the City of Denver, reviews and gives final approval for all new vertical construction plans in Stapleton, both commercial and residential. New businesses can’t get a building permit from Denver without a letter of approval from this committee.
Although the meetings have been viewed by many members of the Community Advisory Board as public, the Front Porch has learned that since real estate development is generally not public at the point companies are gathering information about development options to determine whether to proceed, these meetings are not technically public. Further, sales contracts are confidential, so legally Forest City can’t divulge identities until developers (or potential developers) are ready to share the information publicly.
However, at the Design Review Committee meeting in April, King Soopers indicated they were at a stage where they were ready to talk and hear the committee’s suggestions with members of the press in attendance.
Joel Starbuck, assistant director of real estate, King Soopers and City Market, addressed their earlier idea of a smaller, more boutique-style with a higher end selection of fresh foods. Not only has King Soopers not had success with that model, he said, “When we really started looking at it we realized that’s really not going to serve this community well. There is affordable housing around here. We didn’t think the boutique store served what we’re trying to do with this end of the community.”
Starbuck said the new store they are planning will be the same size and quality as the existing store. But, he added, “It’s not going to be ‘the same’ as the existing store. It’s’ going to be laid out a little differently. They’ll look similar on the inside, but you’re going to definitely see differences. Our stores continue to progress. The stores we’re building now do not look like the stores we built two years ago. We’re always changing. But we didn’t want to leave anything out at this end of the neighborhood. We’re not sure the smaller size boutique was going to do that.”
Although they did not present design plans at this stage, Starbuck said the store will not have a drop ceiling, the ceiling will go all the way to the roof, with skylights so they can cut back lighting during the day and make use of sunlight. The floor will be tinted concrete. He added that King Soopers typically designs to meet Energy Star and they are working now to put LED lighting throughout the parking lot at another building.
At this stage, a big reason King Soopers met with the Design Review Committee was not so much to present information, but to get information on what the committee sees as important for this site.
The committee looked closely at the intersections and the parking and how they impact pedestrian access. They questioned whether Geneva will just provide vehicle access or whether it will be used by pedestrians; and they looked at pedestrian access from the grocery store to the shops at the west end of Eastbridge, saying, “We would like to make this easily walkable.”
The committee indicated they would like to see a store that feels contemporary in design, that puts an emphasis on a positive pedestrian experience along the entire west façade, and that they will be concerned about the quality of the architecture on all four sides. They talked about making the front of the building a “lovely” pedestrian experience by using building materials that aren’t industrial but would “feel good if you brushed up against them.” And they discussed how the King Soopers on Quebec is set far back from the street, but, “There are some relationships to the neighborhood that need to come out through the architecture here.”
The Stapleton design guidelines also reflect the importance the committee places on glazing (windows), pointing out that “glazing makes the store more appealing from the street… There’s a desire on our part for glazing, but we’ve been successful finding a happy medium. We have proven examples where we’ve successfully managed to figure out how to get less glazing than perfectly desired but a better piece of architecture. We’d rather have better architecture than every square foot of glass.”
These are some comments that were posted on BIg Tent. I think that King Soopers should see them, but not sure how to get them to KS management.
1. A Stapleton resident was in the Stapleton King Soopers Thursday and saw a mouse in the deli case running over the meats and cheeses. When she pointed it out, the employees behind the counter shrugged and did nothing. She has reported it to the Department of Health and it appears that the actual deli case has been closed. It’s my understanding that the deli department continues to sell meats and cheeses, though not directly from the deli case.
Because I wasn’t the one who witnessed it, I’m not sure I can answer questions. I just thought it was important for Stapleton residents to be made aware.
2. It’s disgusting. The employees are horrible (I had the customer service lady who kept laughing at her phone turn her phone around and show me the grosses porno photo ever).
We stopped shopping their and started using the Walmart delivery service. I have to say I get 20 times better produce and it’s incredibly convenient!
3. Wow. Terrible. I’ve also stopped going there since last August when the cashier (who I thought was one of the more experienced in the store) started giving my shopping bags to the customer before me; then, after checking out my order, walked away from the cash register to check his smart phone while I bagged my order; and after that began to ring up the next customer before I had finished bagging my own order and before I even paid for my order!!!!
Enough is enough, people. Time for an all-out boycott!!!!
King Soopers sent the following statement:
The safety of our food and the cleanliness of our stores is our top priority. We have no tolerance for this kind of situation and are taking immediate action.
We thoroughly sanitized this area and, out of an abundance of caution, we discarded all product from our service deli case. We are stepping up our pest control enforcement both in and around our store. We are working in full cooperation with the Denver County Health Department and are going to be working closely with them to make sure we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again.
We apologize for this unfortunate situation and can assure our customers that we are doing everything possible to prevent future problems from occurring.
Ive never been more embarrassed to read some of the elitist comments above. You all just think that Stapleton is this tiny little island and that there are no other communities that surround you. Not everyone cares for Whole Foods crappy prices and selection. Moreover not everyone is impressed with Trader Joes private label grocery items. It’s just laughable to me that as always the wealthy want to dictate for everyone else. A walkable general grocery store is what’s needed here to serve the entire area not just the moronic snobs. Let the lily white folk shop at the boutique store and let all those “others” shop at king soopers. We dont want that kind of element in Eastbridge, oh no! Oh hell just leave it a grassy weedy lot and forget about it.
I disagree with Joel Starbuck's comments on what the neighborhood wants or needs. I think complementing an existing large-format store (which I agree is over-extended and over-crowded) with a small, boutique style fresh market would be a smart way of segmenting your audiences to maximize the experience for customers. Taking the same approach with your format takes away from what area residents are looking for and willing to pay.
Stapleton does have an economically mixed population with areas of affordable housing, but building a secondary store to cater to "every" resident is a huge missed opportunity. Many of us are currently driving outside of our community to purchase specific food in a better store (and parking) environment.
I think the Design Review Committee needs to really push back during these talks to ensure they're representing the group of us that would be willing to pay $.50 more for a tomato in exchange for an overall better shopping experience.
Forest City, a $9 billion dollar company with all of its power and clout completely failed in negotiating this deal and has let down their investors, image, the city of Denver, and most importantly their customers and community. The Eastbridge plan is far off the mark of the Stapleton Vision and is an anywhere, USA concept. If King Soopers "move[s] at a slow pace" and couldn't make an offer fast enough, then that should have been a reason for Forest City to get out of the contract an open the space up to other grocers. Because Forest City failed at this town center, they have already missed the mark and there is going to a competing retail center down the street a the Stanley Aviation site.
I can't believe that King Soopers is talking about how innovative they are with skylights now. Walmart started putting in skylights 20 years ago! and many cities now require the use.
This design isn't a "town center". It is a strip mall that just happens to be in the center of housing with two big one way streets surrounding it – MLK East and MLK West. As it is designed now, it just seems like a magnet for traffic. Who is going to want to hang out in a "town center" with constant high volumes of traffic?
Trim down the size of the King Supers and cut the parking lot in half, and add a park where one half of the parking lot is and create large Zebra stripped pedestrian cross walks on both the East and West directions of MLK and slow down the traffic – make is such that people who don't have business to do there will want to drive around the town center instead through it if they are traveling east-west.
You have got to be kidding. This is the worst possible outcome. Because King Soopers has mismanaged their Fresh Fare concept, and they can block with their first right of refusal, Stapleton pays for it in our inability to get a decent, healthy grocery store. A small format store not managed by King Soopers would absolutely thrive in that location, my family would immediately abandon King Soopers except for when we needed to have a selection of 20 kinds of soda pop (never). Forrest City has completely mismanaged this. I would rather they not build the second store at all than have to deal with another King Soopers.
This news just made my day!! The King Soopers store on Quebec is too crowded and understocked. It can't keep up with the needs of the community. Please, please start the process of getting the store built. I have been having to shop at a King Soopers in Boulder county on my way home just to avoid the Quebec store. I live on MLK and I am completely exasperated with the current shopping options for Stapleton.
King Soopers should refuse this location as they are probably not wanted or welcome (in their current proposed form) by most, if not all, Eastbridge homeowners. Joel Starbuck of Soopers mentions that a duplicate of the store on Quebec fits our needs, including the needs of those fellow residents in income-controlled housing…a boutique would not work here he says. Oh really? Does Mr. Starbuck live here? I doubt it. Unbelievable…Eastbridge residents have waited 8+ years for this???!!!
And those income-controlled residents Mr. Starbuck is so concerned about….ok…then why are you planning on a gas station right across the street from their homes instead of those more pricier three level New Town homes?
I don’t understand this. As we know NO other grocer wants to be in that location. It’s not a matter of KS edging out another brand interested in being there – they are the ONLY ones interested in being there because they know it will be a profitable location for them. Effectively KS is saving the day in allowing the Town Center plan to FINALLY go ahead. Why would you want KS to decide not to build there when the alternative is no town center and the land gets used for more housing? You’d rather have residences in that space (or emptiness for however many more years) than a grocery store, restaurant, cafe, etc? Genuinely perplexed.
I can't speak for those in the immediate vicinity to the Eastbridge "town center" – but I certainly would not drive to Eastbridge from West Stapleton to shop at King Soopers. Nor do I drive to the existing King Soopers on Quebec, which is in my neighborhood. Sorry to be a snob, but I go far out of my way for what I want – Sprouts, Trader Joes and Whole Foods. And, I think these upscale markets can tweak their stores to accomadate the surrounding clientele. Prices at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, etc., are not that far above King Soopers. Yes, many items are, but there also are lower priced items.
I think Park Hill and Lowry residents, as well as all of Stapleton, would drive to Eastbridge if that were the closest Whole Foods or Trader Joes or similar market. From Park Hill it's a drive down Montview and a left turn. From Lowry it's North on Yosemite to Montview and a left turn.
I think Forest City got itself into a jam and this is the best it can do.
I hope the plan for a spot at the Stanley Aviation site becomes reality and a Whole Foods, Trader Joes or other similar market shows up there. That could be the best outcome for all.
I utterly disagree. Why do people think that we must all fit into one mold? I am too ill to eat gmo ‘franken-food’…or 98% of the junk they sell at KS, Albertson’s, Safeway…
Trader Joe’s has reasonable prices and variety of healthier alternatives. But more importantly, they take responsibility for the products they sell by guaranteeing their brand items gmo free.
Just because some people can live on crap full of chemicals, artificial flavourings and coloring, sugar, salt, and other random fillers…and gmo crap…doesn’t mean we all can.
So having a natural grocery store not owned by same corp, isn’t about rich or genetic codes (I am multi-ethnic) …its about freedom and access to choice…and my right to access foods that don’t put me in the hospital. Which currently there isn’t anywhere near my home…which makes my painful trips to get food just that more difficult….and rare.
Thank goodness co-ops can’t be blocked for greed and profit sake! I also think it is disgusting that someone posted that only ‘lilywhite’ folks care about their food intake!
Shame on you! POC should have the same rights to access good foods for their families as the Anglo community!
Get real people. A natural foods grocer can't survive at this location. Compare eastbridge to the other high profile/traffic locations of natural grocer stores in Denver– Cherry Creek, Colfax Ave, Uptown/17th Ave. We should be thrilled to see this development finally moving forward. A grocery store that we can walk to and a couple restaurants and shops. I'd take that over more apartments and no retail in east stapleton. That's the alternative.
On your list, you forgot to mention the Capital Hill Whole Foods – while more dense than Stapleton, it is certainly not a high profile/traffic location. Forest City needs to make the case that Eastbridge meets the requirements of whole foods or other natural grocers. While Stapleton has some affordable housing, it is full of wealthy, college educated and discriminate consumers – that is why they are here and not in some suburb. This grocer is not just for Eastbridge; it can and will serve as the alternative grocer for all of the current 17,000 Stapleton residents.
Check out the link below to see the basic requirements for Whole Foods site selection. Eastbridge exceeds every single one them. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company-info/real…
If it is true that no other grocer was willing to build, then Forest City failed in their job in communicating and carrying out the Stapleton vision. The only way I can make sense of this is if KS builds the Eastbride store and then moves out of their current store to allow for a Whole Foods or the like to move in servicing Park Hill and Stapleton and probably also Cole, Whittier, Skyland, and Clayton for that matter.
Nothing says a walkable town center like a 60,000 sqft. parking lot. If it is going to be that big why just put a Walmart there?