The owner of Creekside Village has announced its first new tenant since revealing a revitalization plan it hopes will turn Whistler’s original ski village into a “must visit” location.
CNL Lifestyle Properties, the Florida-based company with an 80-per-cent stake in the commercial area, has reached a proposed lease agreement with The Chopped Leaf, a quick-service restaurant with 37 locations across Canada, according to its website.
“Chopped Leaf perfectly fits into the branding of offering something new and Canadian at Creekside Village,” said Peter Morris, founder of the Greenstead Consulting Group, the firm responsible for developing Creekside’s remerchandising plan, in a release.
The Chopped Leaf serves made-to-order salads, wraps, soup and appetizers with “recipes that focus on being natural and flavourful.” A franchisee for the new Whistler location has not yet been secured, said Morris.
“We would really like to see a local person acquire the franchise, but we are also marketing it throughout our system,” said Nik Jurkovic, VP of development for Innovative Food Brands, the Toronto-based company that purchased Chopped Leaf in 2014, in a release. Jurkovic added that the restaurant aligns with “the healthy living lifestyle” of Whistler.
Greenstead announced its revitalization plan in July, saying it was on the lookout for “unique” and/or “quintessentially Canadian” commercial tenants to distinguish Creekside from the village. This came after CNL’s decision not to renew the leases of several of Creekside’s tenants, believing “there wasn’t enough imagination to create attraction for consumers” with their current tenant lineup, Morris said at the time.
The plan drew a mixed reception from the community, with some wondering if it would be enough to drive visitation to the beleaguered commercial area.
Some businesses, particularly restaurants, have struggled to stay afloat in Creekside over the years. The vacancy rate at Creekside before The Chopped Leaf came onboard was 13 per cent, according to CNL.
Others have called for commercial rents to be lowered in order to attract and retain local small business owners to the area and better reflect the retail traffic Creekside attracts. The Whistler Chamber of Commerce’s recent commercial rent report found that main floor space in Creekside runs from $20 to $53 per square foot, compared to $35 to $55 on Main Street in the village, and $50 to $63 for ground floor space in Marketplace.