West­min­ster loads cart with Mar­czyk Fine Foods

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Erin Dou­glas The Den­ver Post

The city of West­min­ster wants to be the Front Range’s next ur­ban hub — and it might be on its way.

Mar­czyk Fine Foods, a Den­ver gro­cer that prides it­self on be­ing a one-stop shop for fine in­gre­di­ents, an­nounced Wednes­day that it will open its third lo­ca­tion in down­town West­min­ster, mark­ing a turn­ing point for the devel­op­ment.

Mar­czyk, which its owner de­scribes as the “unicorn” of gro­cers, is the lat­est cre­ative busi­ness to an­nounce plans to join the area. And when the project is com­plete near the end of 2018, the mar­ket will neigh­bor a movie the­ater that dou­bles as a draft house and res­i­den­tial build­ings cer­ti­fied by Lead­er­ship in En­ergy and En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign.

The West­min­ster Mall was torn down in the hopes of build­ing a more suc­cess­ful and unique out­door down­town shop­ping area. The 105-acre site, at U.S. 36 and Sheri­dan Boule­vard, is hop­ing to “re­de­fine” sub­ur­ban Amer­ica.

Sarah Nurmela, West­min­ster’s down­town real es­tate and devel­op­ment man­ager, said other busi­nesses that share sim­i­lar tar­get mar­kets and com­mu­nity goals are in the process of sign­ing leases. She hopes the busi­nesses that have an­nounced plans to open in the space, in­clud­ing Mar­czyk, are an in­di­ca­tion of where the devel­op­ment is headed.

“(Mar­czyk) is very rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the types of busi­nesses and the ex­pe­ri­ence that we want to have in the down­town, so you’ll see more busi­nesses with the same char­ac­ter,” Nurmela said.

The mar­ket will oc­cupy a 9,000-square­foot space on the first floor of Ori­gin Ho­tel, an “ex­pe­ri­ence driven” in­de­pen­dent ho­tel col­lec­tion.

Pete Mar­czyk, co-founder and CEO of Mar­czyk Fine Foods, said he be­came in­ter­ested in West­min­ster af­ter a per­sis­tent cus­tomer — who hap­pened to be a bro­ker on the down­town project — told him about it while he was search­ing for a third lo­ca­tion. Then an ar­chi­tect in­tro­duced him to Thrash Group, an­other fam­ily-owned busi­ness and the de­vel­oper of Ori­gin.

“It seems crazy, and maybe it is, but we make things work or die try­ing,” Mar­czyk said about com­bin­ing spa­ces with the ho­tel. “We were com­pelled by their vi­sion.”

Nurmela said West­min­ster’s down­town is look­ing to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it­self from the rest of the north­west Den­ver cor­ri­dor. In­deed, she says the area will be a re­gional des­ti­na­tion. The devel­op­ment is based on a “block by block” process rather than hav­ing a mas­ter plan.

“(Mar­czyk) is in­dica­tive of the tone that we’re try­ing to set with this city area,” Nurmela said. “We’re work­ing hard to at­tract busi­nesses that have the same vi­sion we have.”

Other Den­ver sub­urbs have made big bets on mixed-use projects de­signed to at­tract vis­i­tors to re­de­vel­oped re­tail ar­eas — in­clud­ing Lake­wood’s Bel­mar and Cen­ten­nial’s Streets at South­glenn.

Mar­czyk has pre­vi­ously taken on the role as a trend­set­ter for a neigh­bor­hood. Its first two lo­ca­tions — one in North Capi­tol Hill and the other on East Col­fax Av­enue near the state Capi­tol — had busi­nesses de­velop around them.

“We’re used to be­ing pi­o­neers,” Mar­czyk said. “Even on Col­fax, peo­ple were won­der­ing what we were do­ing. But mar­kets re­ally have a cat­alyz­ing ef­fect on neigh­bor­hoods, and we felt like we could make this work.”

The trend­set­ter is good news for West­min­ster. Nurmela said res­i­dents can ex­pect other busi­ness an­nounce­ments in the com­ing months.

“They’ve gone into ar­eas that are less estab­lished and have been a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor in build­ing a stronger neigh­bor­hood,” Nurmela said. “That’s what they an­tic­i­pate do­ing in the down­town as well.”

Mar­czyk said his busi­ness isn’t the se­cret, al­though he did ad­mit that gro­cery stores and mar­kets can be the foun­da­tion and cen­ter of a com­mu­nity.

“We’re one small thread in the fabric of a neigh­bor­hood,” Mar­czyk said. “It takes some time.”

Mar­czyk’s third lo­ca­tion will be known as Mar­czyk 2.0. Though sep­a­rate en­ti­ties, it will be con­nected to the lobby area of the ho­tel next to a re­tailer not yet de­cided. The West­min­ster ho­tel will be Ori­gin’s sec­ond in Colorado — it is build­ing the Ori­gin Red Rocks near Mor­ri­son.

The mar­ket will break ground in West­min­ster by the end of the year. The store will house a full-ser­vice fresh gro­cery, wine, liquor and in-store seat­ing for the deli and pre­pared foods.

“West­min­ster is in a dy­namic phase of its evo­lu­tion as a city,” Mar­czyk said. “I’m most ex­cited for crys­tal­liz­ing this group of neigh­bor­hoods.”

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