Vail Daily letter: Remember when we didn’t need City Market, either? |

Vail Daily letter: Remember when we didn’t need City Market, either?

John Kleinman
Vail, CO, Colorado

Stunning news for the new mayor, citizens and Town Board of Eagle. A second big box developer: The $90 billion, Ohio-based Kroger Co., builder of big-box retail outlets, with stores serving as anchors for many strip malls across the country, declared its intention to double the size of City Market in Eagle.

Kroger certainly will produce market studies indicating that the current City Market is a high performer, and the proposed expansion will allow the retail business to grow. Kroger’s justification will be that it needs more retail space for greater product diversity, consumer choices and convenience. In addition, the promise of increased sales tax revenues and employment opportunities will certainly be mentioned.

Beware Kroger! Some of Eagle’s citizens are not so easily duped. They have heard this all before, arguing there is no way a big, 8,000-square-foot box with almost 500 parking spots will make it. They will claim locating it miles from the core business district will disjoint the town.

The failure of multiple Albertsons in Denver will be mentioned as evidence of overzealous big-box expansion and that well-heeled visitors from Dallas, New York and beyond will never stop in Eagle to shop. And lastly, promises of increased sales tax revenue and employment are contrived and meant to sway the Town Board.

Never fear. Kroger has faced this criticism before. In the mid 1990s, Kroger planned for the opening of a new City Market in Eagle. They proposed a staggering 4,000-square-foot, 250-car parking lot retail space just northeast of I-70, exit 147.

Shocking residents, it was widely rumored that the Loaf N Jug on old Highway 6 was all that a small Western town wanted. After all, if Loaf N Jug didn’t carry it, an easy 30-mile drive up or downvalley was all that was needed to meet a discriminating shopper’s appetite. Many feared that Loaf N Jug would go bankrupt. Why would Eagle need something so big?

Outrage continued, the new store would be located almost a mile and a half from downtown Eagle’s business district, would pull business from the downtown core and in fact have more parking spaces than all of downtown Eagle. Furthermore, available property adjacent to the project would provide space for the location of new businesses far from existing Eagle retail locations.

Sure enough! When the City Market opened, new motels, banks, restaurants, small strip malls and even a Burger King were soon to follow. To add insult to injury, Loaf N Jug closed its downtown Eagle Highway 6 location and moved to the intersection of freeway exit 147, on the southwest corner of I-70. Their justification: Loaf N Jug said the new location provided increased visibility and traffic flow.

So, even though it is 15 years later, that explains the current retail environment in Eagle.

Good news for the new mayor and Town Board – they have their work cut out for them.

John Kleinman


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