Franz’s Trail opening for business 

First phase of Creekside development nears completion

At the base of the Creekside Gondola on opening day for Whistler Mountain, a girl with a back-pack coffee dispenser hands out free samples of Starbucks specialty coffees to the cold skiers and snowboarders.

Just a few hundred feet further down the walkway, over a bridge and into an area that has been under construction for more than two years, Starbucks Coffee is at last open for business. The display cases are fully stocked with baked goods, and coffee-making apparatus line the walls behind the employees.

"This is the calm before the storm," said Starbucks manager Sheila Chateen. "We’re hoping that today is going to be our big day. We want people to know we’re here, and that we’re open for business.

"We’ve been working hard to get ready, and now we’re excited to finally be open."

Starbucks opened its doors to the public on Nov. 25, the first new business to open in the Franz’s Trail commercial development since Canski opened its doors in 2001.

Kidz Corner at 49 th Parallel, a clothing and toys store for children, followed Starbucks with a grand opening on Nov. 28.

Although there are still a few vacancies, almost all of the retail and commercial spaces in Franz’s Trail will open in the next few weeks.

"We’re aiming for a Dec. 20 grand opening," said Eric Gerlach, vice president of development for the north-west region in Intrawest’s resort development group.

"Not all (retailers) will be up and running, but that’s the date we’re going with to bring people down here and let them know what’s opening. We decided to set a date to put a little pressure on ourselves to get things as wrapped up as possible for the season."

The commercial area is named after Franz Wilhelmsen, president of Garibaldi Lifts Ltd., the company which founded ski operations on Whistler Mountain.

Although the majority of retail and office space is occupied and accessible, the Franz’s Trail project won’t be completed this winter.

All but two levels of the parking garage are already open, and by mid-December the goal is to open the entire parkade with 1,276 Whistler-Blackcomb parking spots and more than 100 commercial stalls.

The walls surrounding the construction site will be taken down in some areas and moved back in others, creating a walkway and restoring bus service along the North side of Lake Placid Road.

The centrepiece for the project, the gateway building planned for the corner of Highway 99 and Lake Placid Road, has been postponed until a tenant can be selected.

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