Vancouver restaurant group purchases Creekside space 

Whistler-Blackcomb sees momentum in Franz’s Trail despite vacancies

The Franz’s Trail development at Creekside has seen several businesses come and go in recent years. This year the shopping area has seen the closure of Morgan’s Creekside restaurant and possibly Una Mas.

However, with the recent sale of the space previously occupied by Morgan’s to a Vancouver restaurant group and interest in other spaces, Whistler-Blackcomb is confident the shopping area — sold by Intrawest to CNL properties in 2004, with agreements to lease back some of the spaces — is on the right track.

“There have been individual circumstances down there with businesses closing, and each case is unique… but I can tell you that there seems to be energy down there as well,” said Doug Forseth, senior vice president of operations for Whistler-Blackcomb.

“With the sale of the (Morgan’s Creekside) restaurant space, we are about to see the rebirth of the restaurant, Maggie Thornhill just moved in with her real estate group, Scotia Bank is talking to us about expanding their space, and there’s a fitness group looking to take up a space right now. I know there’s also an offer out by a group that would like to take over the former site of Nick and Willy’s Takeout Pizza… so there’s energy in Creekside right now and we’re actually feeling very good about it.”

Several businesses have closed their doors in Franz’s Trail in recent years, including a kids clothing store, Nick and Willy’s, Morgan’s Creekside, The Herb Emporium and Gravity. The status of Una Mas (previously Joey Chan’s) is still undetermined — Whistler-Blackcomb has been told that the space is being renovated, but phone calls to management have not been returned and a former staff member contacted by Pique Newsmagazine said no reason was given for the closure.

But while there have been closures and vacancies in Franz’s Trail, the shopping area has seen a number of stable and successful retail tenants, including the Creekside Market, a B.C. Liquor Store, Subway, Movie Gallery, The Hub, and Dream Merchants. Whistler-Blackcomb also manages several spaces successfully, including Starbucks, Canski and Whistler Kids, while Intrawest — Whistler-Blackcomb’s parent company — houses offices for various real estate developments.

According to Forseth, issues in Franz’s Trail have more to do with poor timing than anything. Franz’s Trail opened in December 2003, near the beginning of a three-year plus economic slump for the resort. The area has also been the site of a lot of construction through that period, including the Evolution development that is expected to open this summer.

“It was a tough time, the business community was struggling in the early 2000s so we’ve had some challenges, but we see Creekside as growing,” he said.

“Right now we’re bullish on Creekside, and we think it’s going to get better and better. With the Peak 2 Peak Gondola operating this season, anybody in the south end of Whistler can get to Blackcomb without going through the village, it’s going to be the fastest way to Blackcomb.”

The Morgan’s space has been purchased by Vancouver-based Points West Hospitality Group, which manages five establishments — Players Chophouse and Lounge in Vancouver and Kamloops, Darcy’s Pub and the Upstairs Cabaret in Victoria, and Saltaire in West Vancouver. Owners and investors include former and current NHL players, skeleton athlete Jeff Pain, and other celebrities.

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