National, full-service grocery store to open downtown in 2013: Could it be Trader Joe's?

Categories: Business

Grocery at 20th & Chestnut.jpg
The Mulhern Group
Urban grocery shoppers rejoice! In two years, Denver will finally boast a full-service grocery store in the heart of downtown. The mixed-use project, first reported by the DenverInfill blog, will be located at 20th Street and Chestnut Place, two blocks from Union Station, and will be helmed by the Nichols Partnership, the developers behind the Spire. Only one question remains: What grocery store will we get?

The project, currently named "20th and Chestnut," was first proposed four years ago when the Nichols Partnership bought the land in the Union Station district. Excitement over the development faded, however, as the financial meltdown and other factors kept the project stalled. Now, however, "we are ready to go," reports Nichols Partnership Project Manager Dan Schuetz.

That means Nichols, in partnership with Loftus Developments and the Mulhern Group, is moving full steam ahead on a 42,000-square foot urban grocer at the corner of 20th and Chestnut, along with several other retail stores along Chestnut and 300 or so apartments in a five-story building above it. Shovels will hit the dirt in December 2011, and the store will be open for business in 2013. Eventually, there will also be a twelve-story mixed-use tower on the block -- and yes, in case you're wondering, there will also be a 100-car parking lot on site for shoppers.

"We are responding to market demand," says Schuetz. "There is definitely a demand from downtown residents and others for a grocery store, and there is also a demand for rental housing." Even better, points out Schuetz, is the fact that the Urban Station transit hub will be two blocks away -- meaning folks all over the metro area should be able to access the grocer without bothering with their car.

So, what grocery store will fill the space? For now, Schuetz is keeping mum. "You certainly will be familiar with this national brand, but I wouldn't even hint as to which of the brands it will be. It's too early to do that," he says. "I think everybody will be pleased with the grocer that will be down there. There will be something for everybody."

In other words, does Schuetz mean "Trader Joe's"? If not, he should be prepared for the horde of torch- and pitchfork-wielding grocery snobs that will be storming his way.

More from our Business archive: "IKEA's Centennial store grand opening date moved from fall to July 27: Efficient!" Follow Joel Warner on Twitter @joelmwarner

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Many Trader Joe's do not sell beer and wine. Liquor makes up only aboutl 15-17% of Trader Joes's overall revenue.

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CJ Powell
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I could be wrong here, but I thought Trader Joe's could not come to Colorado based on our strange liquor laws. Every year when the topic comes in legislation, I've heard that if we can get liquor in our convenience stores, then it will finally open the door for Trader Joe's to come to Colorado. As far as I know, the popular grocery store won't come until that law changes because they make such a large share of their revenue on alcohol sales.

H. Wren
H. Wren

TJ's successfully operates in states with even weirder liquor laws than our own. There's plenty of stores in Pennsylvania, where only state-run stores can sell beer and wine, and in Massachusetts, where each corporate entity only gets a few liquor licenses. If TJ's does open in Colorado, they will get one liquor license, so they can open up one store that sells full-strength alcohol -- like the Target and King Soopers in Glendale do.

The reason that I've heard for the lack of TJ's in Colorado, from someone I know who used to work there, is that they like to cluster their stores near distribution centers in order to keep transport costs down -- there's ones on the west coast, east coast, and in the midwest, and Colorado is not near any of them! Denver was too remote from any other TJ's stores. Now, since they have stores in Santa Fe and Albuquerque (which were opened because they were close to their Arizona stores), we could conceivably be next on the list...

Bill
Bill

Well, Trader Joe's COULD come here. They just won't because of the 1930s Prohibition liquor laws. And as evident by the recent moves by the new governor, the liquor laws aren't changing anytime soon under the scare tactics of the liquor industry that stores will suddenly close.

Chipotlady
Chipotlady

How does the distribution center proximity/transport cost argument hold when TJ's announced new stores opening in Kansas City,MO and Leawood, KS? 

Dan
Dan

Here in Massachusetts most Trader Joe's don't have any liquor because of law that limits number of locations that can sell by same company...

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