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FLAGSTAFF, AZ-After months of planning, ground will break today on the $100-million Aspen Place at the Sawmill. The 38-acre project will kick off with a 155,000-sf retail component and add about 300 single-family homes, townhouses and duplexes at a later date.

“We’re focusing on the retail first as that’s the amenity that will make this work,” says Donald Meyers, founder and president of Phoenix-based Aspen Group. He says the retail side of the project at Butler and Lone Tree Roads will take 24 to 36 months to build out and lease up. The project, though, is ready to launch with 75,000 sf of the component already committed, he tells GlobeSt.com.

The anchor is New Frontiers Natural Marketplace, which is taking down 24,000 sf. Chico’s and Wildflower Bread Co. also are on board with signed leases. The quoted rates are $30 sf to $32 per sf, with terms ranging from five years to 20 years.

On the residential end, the Aspen Group has decided to start selling lots to developers in late 2008. The decision was pending in November 2006 when GlobeSt.com published its first article about the mixed-use development.

Meyers acknowledges the permitting process took a little longer than hoped. He says Aspen Group’s original plans were to begin construction during the first quarter. But otherwise, Meyers says he’s pleased with how the project has come together.

“This has been a great partnership with the City of Flagstaff,” he adds. “They’ve been great to work with. There’s nothing like this in the area.”

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