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DENVER-Developer Chuck Perry will break ground next spring on a 28,000-sf Sunflower Market, a grocer dedicated to offering health foods. The founders of Wild Oats created the Longmont-based chain, which was launched three years ago.

The Denver Planning Board, after a 40-minute hearing, unanimously gave the green light to the highly energy-efficient building to be constructed in the New Urbanism-style Highlands’ Garden Village community Perry developed. The store, which will open in about a year, will be the first ground-up construction for the chain. In the past, other stores in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada were opened in retrofitted buildings.

“When you build it from the ground up, you can do it exactly the way you want it,” Bennett Bertoli, a minority owner and vice president of real estate of the chain, tells GlobeSt.com. “We love the neighborhood. I’ve spent a lot of time there. I’ve been eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in the neighborhood.”

Perry, who began developing the New Urbanism Highlands’ Garden infill seven years ago, on the site of the former Elitch Gardens amusement park, tells GlobeSt.com that it is difficult to find a 28,000-sf grocer. “A typical grocery store is now 65,000-sf to 70,000-sf,” Perry tells GlobeSt.com.

“A store this size is a good answer, for a niche, urban corridor such as West 38th Avenue, West Colfax and Alameda, where often you don’t have huge parcels of ground,” Perry says. The new Sunflower will be built at the southeast corner of West 38th and Wolff Street.

Earlier, Wal-Mart had proposed constructing a 40,000-sf Neighborhood Market on the site. It would have been the first on the state. Residents vigorously protested the plan and Wal-Mart pulled the plug on it last year. The big-box retailer claimed the move had nothing to do with the protests. In any case, Perry tells GlobeSt.com that he believes the Sun Flower will be a better fit for the site. “For one thing, it is smaller,” Perry says.

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