Scott Condon
Aspen Times

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August 31, 2014
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Downtown Basalt losing longtime business to Willits

One of Basalt’s oldest, continuous businesses is relocating from downtown to Willits Town Center.

Midland Clothing Co. will leave its current space at 208 Midland Ave. for a street-level storefront in the Triangle Park building at Willits, according to owner Veronika Miller. She plans to reopen at Willits by Sept. 15.

Miller said she isn’t leaving downtown because of a poor business climate.

“We’ve had a great summer,” she said.

Instead, she had an opportunity to buy the space at Willits. She rents downtown. The Midland Avenue space needs some updates to fit her store’s needs, and she said she was reluctant to spend money on a space she doesn’t own.

She will gain about 100 square feet by making the move. The new space is about 2,400 square feet, Miller said.

A deed filed with the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder’s Office shows that the Veronika W. Miller Trust purchased spaces C188 and C120 in the Triangle Park Lofts building for $818,700 on May 20. The trust received a building permit for an interior finish with an estimated value of $200,000, according to a note about the property on the Eagle County Assessor’s website.

The seller was Willits Town Center LLC, a company affiliated with the Willits owner and developer, Mariner Real Estate Management. Mariner typically rents its spaces, but the Triangle Park Lofts building was set up differently, and all the commercial spaces were condominiumized separately, according to Tim Belinski, a local representative of Mariner. Several other units have been sold in the building, and one spot remains on the 700 block of East Valley Road.

Midland Clothing, as it is often referred to, is the third major downtown-area retailer to relocate to Willits. Basalt Bike and Ski and Bristlecone Mountain Sports lease space in the same building as Whole Foods Market. Both businesses front East Valley Road — the spine of Willits that draws the most traffic to the grocery store. Midland Clothing will be in a highly visible spot across East Valley Road from Bristlecone.

Reviving downtown vitality has evolved into a major issue for the Basalt town government and the business community. The loss of another prime retailer won’t help the effort. On the other hand, retailers aren’t fleeing the town. Willits Town Center is part of Basalt.

Miller said she has mixed emotions about leaving downtown.

“I’m pretty melancholy about it,” she said, adding that she is excited about the visibility of the new space and the activity in Willits.

Belinski said Midland Clothing will add to the diversity at Willits and add to the list of establishments that are locally owned. It will be the first shop at the development to sell clothing for kids.

“They’ve got a loyal following,” Belinski said.

Next month will mark the 19th year that Midland Clothing was located in the same downtown space. Miller said the business will soon celebrate its 24th anniversary overall downtown. It was located across Midland Avenue for the first five years. Miller and her staff, including longtime store manager Sandy Wirkler, have established strong brand recognition over nearly a quarter century in business. Miller said her store will keep the Midland Clothing name even after moving from Midland Avenue.

Another longtime business secured a lease that will allow it to remain downtown. Basalt Clinic Pharmacy relocated from inside the former Clark’s Market building to a space across Midland Spur from Town Hall and next to Saxy’s.


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The Post Independent Updated Sep 2, 2014 10:35AM Published Sep 2, 2014 11:26AM Copyright 2014 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.