The commercial retail spaces in the Franzs Trail development at Creekside could be finalized by the end of the month, said realtor Drew Meredith.
"We had a couple of false starts due a number of factors, but now its time to get everyone wrapped up and move along," he said. "We hope to have the whole think completed, all the contracts inked, by the end of July."
The completion of the planned shopping area, which will include more than 1,500 parking stalls as well as services for the south end of Whistler, has already been pushed back from the fall of 2001 to the fall of 2003.
Before the parkade can be built, Whistler Creek itself has to be moved.
The municipality, through its Whistler South Comprehensive Development Strategy, also wanted to see an underpass completed under Highway 99 next summer, which would link to the Valley Trail and the Beaver Flats housing project.
Both the parkade and the underpass were linked to an occupancy permit for the First Tracks Lodge at Creekside, which is nearing completion.
Intrawest claimed that the relocation of Whistler Creek, the completion of Franzs Trail and the underpass were held up by the cleanup of a fuel leak at the nearby PetroCanada station.
Initially the municipality wanted to prevent the occupancy of the First Tracks Lodge until these projects were completed, but in June Intrawest and the municipality struck a deal that would see these projects built next summer.
If the PetroCanada site cleanup isnt completed by next spring, Intrawest will build an underpass and a dry creek channel next summer while leaving Whistler Creek to follow its current course until the fuel cleanup is completed.
The relocation of the river was not the only factor that has delayed the Franzs Trial project, according to Meredith.
"September 11 had a pretty major impact on a lot of big corporations and Intrawest was one of them. Nobody knew what the fallout would be, and luckily things could have been worse. In the scope of things, another year is not that bad," Meredith bad.
The project itself has changed since it was originally conceived. There will no longer be a pub at Franzs Trail, and the family restaurant is being reduced in size to about 2,500 square feet.
Only 12 commercial spaces will be available under the new plan, and the services slated for the area currently include a coffee shop, a grocery store, a B.C. liquor store, and a bank.
"There are fewer locations, but we still have multiple candidates for each spot," said Meredith. "There are still a couple of opportunities there that we havent filled, and were still looking for good ideas. It isnt over until its over."
Construction will resume on Franzs Trail next spring, after the Creekside gondola closes, and Meredith hopes to be open for business by American Thanksgiving at the end of November, 2003.