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DENVER-King Soopers, the dominant grocery chain in the metro area, will open a 58,000-sf store at the former Stapleton International Airport that is being developed by Forest City Stapleton. King Soopers will be an anchor at Stapleton’s first retail center, its town center at East 29th Avenue between Quebec and Syracuse Street on the western edge of the sprawling airport that is three-quarters the size of Manhattan.

A grocery store has long been sought for the area.

”Northeast Denver’s neighborhoods will provide a strong market,” for the King Soopers, says John S. Lehigh, chief operating officer for Forest City Stapleton.

Mayor Wellington Webb adds that the ”dreams and aspirations” for Stapleton and the surrounding neighborhoods are being realized with the King Soopers, which will include a gourmet, health and natural foods departments, in addition to a full-service pharmacy and an on-site gas station.

City Councilwoman Happy Haynes has worked to bring a grocery store to the area for years.

”This will serve a regional market,” Haynes tells GlobeSt.com. ”For a lot of people in this area the closest shopping center is in the Mayfair neighborhood (to the south) and that store is what I would consider over-subscribed. It’s really packed. Some of us have taken to shop there at 2 a.m. to avoid the crowds.”

Despite the interest, grocers worry there isn’t enough demand along the northeast corridor, Haynes tells GlobeSt.com.

“Initially, the King Soopers is going to serve the surrounding area, and in the coming years they’re going to be surrounded by new homes at Stapleton,” Haynes says. ”King Soopers is taking a bold step. I think after they’ve been out there for a while, they’re going to wonder why they were ever worried. Even if the economy slows down a little more and the pace of housing sales slows a bit, it’s going to be a great location for them.”

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