Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt (right) and Mariner Real Estate Management’s local representative, Tim Belinski, sign a steel beam being used for construction of an Element Basalt hotel. The official groundbreaking for the 112-room hotel was held Tuesday morning.

Leasing retail space at Willits Town Center remains a “tough sell” despite the success and allure of Whole Foods Market, according to the president of the company that owns and is developing the project.

Ryan Anderson of Mariner Real Estate Management said Tuesday he hopes that the construction of a 112-room hotel at Willits will help ease the challenge of signing tenants.

Mariner and Silverwest Hotel Partners LLC teamed to build an Element by Westin, which is part of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts brand. An official groundbreaking was held in frigid temperatures Tuesday morning although work started on the foundation roughly a month ago.

Ed Mace, a partner in Silverwest Hotel Partners, said the Element Basalt will open by Thanksgiving 2015 to take advantage of bookings during ski season.  Read full article: