A depressed economy and stalled construction hasn’t stopped several business owners from gambling on what could be a bustling business and residential district in Basalt’s Willits Town Center.Three new businesses are already slated to open in the first half of 2009 while one, Corky Woods, made its valley debut a month ago. Studio Moxie plans to open its doors Jan. 2, and Kitchen Collage and Slifer Designs, both of Edwards, Colo., plan to open sister stores in May.

By Damien Williamson, Oct 22, 2008, Aspen Daily News

All four businesses cited the Willits Master Plan – the centerpiece of which is the 44,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market scheduled to open in late 2009 or early 2010 – as the main reason for their choice of location.

"We’ve actually been approached by several resort towns, but when Willits came to us with their plan, it just seemed like a natural fit," says Amy McDonnell, co-owner of Kitchen Collage. "And being right across from Whole Foods was a dealmaker."

Kitchen Collage, which offers a wide array of products for the kitchen including table tops, cookware, kitchen gadgets, linens and gourmet food, currently resides in the Riverwalk complex in Edwards. It’s a place, McDonnell says, that is very similar to the Willits plan. It offers a mix of residential units, restaurants, grocery stores, shops and holistic health facilities. They’re currently in a 4,000-square-foot store in Edwards, and their shop in Willits will be slightly smaller.

"We already have a good base of clients in Aspen and Carbondale that stop by on their way to Denver, and this seems like a great way to tap into those people as well as get all the traffic on Highway 82," says McDonnell.

In addition to working out a good deal on rent for her 2,972-square foot space, Studio Moxie owner Jayne Gottlieb also plans to take advantage of the multifaceted nature of the completed Willits Town Center. Her business will feature two performance and rehearsal studios as well as a boutique for spiritual gifts and dance-inspired fashion.

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