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Intrawest delays Creekside Development

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The second part of Franz's Trail will have to wait until 2002

The construction schedule for the second phase of Franz's Trail and the underground car park will be delayed for one year to give builders more time to complete a necessary diversion of Whistler creek.

In order for the multi-level day skier car park and 13 retail locations at Franz's Trail to be built, Whistler Creek - which flows through the proposed development - will have to be moved closer to the Petro Canada. Moving the creek will allow for the construction of a parking facility with almost 1,500 stalls and support services such as shipping and receiving, for the businesses at Franz's Trail.

A full environmental assessment has already been completed of the creek route, but builders say the construction process will be complicated as a result it wouldn't be ready in time for next winter.

In addition to re-routing the creek, Intrawest will build a new highway overpass above the new creek route. An extension of the Valley Trail will run under the highway, alongside the re-routed creek.

Intrawest formally announced the decision to delay the proposed parking facility and the second phase of Franz's Trail on March 21.

"If construction is delayed, parking will not be available for the early part of the winter season, and without that parking we can't service our guests," says Eric Gerlach, Director of Development at Intrawest Resort Development. "While this is an unfortunate setback in timing, it is a trade-off for having a positive skier experience at Whistler Creek. An added benefit is that the new schedule will allow the chamber of commerce time to finalize their relocation plans."

This summer Intrawest will continue with landscaping improvements, the addition of a new bus shelter along Lake Placid Road and the development of the lodges. Construction of the second phase of the Legends development and First Tracks Lodge will go ahead this year. The tenants for First Tracks lodge will be decided on April 24. The high-end, concrete facility is expected to be completed in the fall of 2002.

Although the announcement came as a surprise to Drew Meredith, the director of commercial development for Franz's Trail, he doesn't believe the delay will throw off prospective tenants to the 13 retail locations.

"People aren't unhappy because it basically gives them more time to plan their program and get organized," says Meredith.

"At this time it's too early to tell if we're going to lose anybody because we haven't done the final round of selections to decide who's going in there, but I hope that we can do that soon and not lose all the great people we talked to."

Meredith had hoped to announce the tenants before the end of March, but says the final approval has been delayed until after April 19, when the development group will meet once again to take a closer look at the plan and review the business proposals they received.

"I understand what's going on here, they just can't deliver the product in the timeline we required it," he says. "We didn't want the commercial space the following spring, we wanted it in the fall just prior to Christmas, but they just can't meet that deadline.

"With this delay we've kind of throttled back and said maybe we need to take another closer look."

When Franz's Trail was announced, the development group received more than 100 proposals for the 13 retail locations.

"It's such a small, high-value retail space that we want to make sure we get the exact right mix in there," says Meredith.

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