Colorado Malls Seek New Life With Bold Redevelopment Plans
Two struggling regional malls have unveiled ambitious redevelopment plans.
KUNC’s Erin O’Toole talks with Boulder County Business Report publisher Chris Wood about the likely future for Twin Peaks Mall in Longmont and Foothills Mall in Fort Collins.
O’Toole: Chris, developers recently revealed plans for redevelopment of both of these malls. What are the highlights of these plans, and are there any similarities between the two proposals?
Chris Wood: There are a lot of similarities, Erin. Both Fort Collins-based NewMark Merrill Mountain States, which owns Twin Peaks Mall in Longmont, and Greenwood Village-based Alberta Development Partners, which owns Foothills Mall, envision a lot of demolition as part of the redevelopment plan.
Both projects are likely to have new theaters and retailers, and both will have a lot of direct outdoor access to stores, much like lifestyle centers such as the Promenade Shops at Centerra or Twenty Ninth Street in Boulder. And both are likely to require significant public incentives to be realized.
O’Toole: Walk us through what’s been happening at these malls in recent years. Both of them seem to have fallen on hard times.
Wood: That’s very true. These properties were once retail powerhouses, and significant generators of sales-tax dollars. But that’s changed a lot in recent years. Foothills encompasses 750,000 square feet, and that’s about half vacant at this point.
Twin Peaks is 550,000 square feet and also includes huge vacancies. Large anchors have moved out of both properties, either leaving the market entirely or shifting to stand-alone locations. In both cases, previous owners really didn’t reinvest much in the properties, or respond to shifting consumer trends and competition.
O’Toole: I would imagine, in Foothills’ case, that the competition you’re talking about would be the Promenade Shops at Centerra.
Wood: That’s certainly one example. If you go back a few years, various sites in Northern Colorado were vying to be the next big Northern Colorado retail center, including sites in Loveland, Windsor and Fort Collins. Redevelopment of Foothills was talked about way back then. But the Promenade Shops got out of the ground first, and another possible location eventually became Front Range Village on Harmony Road. In the meantime, Foothills continued to deteriorate and lose tenants.
O’Toole: So as both Foothills and Twin Peaks look to redevelopment, what types of tenants are we likely to see?
Wood: Well, the owners of Foothills have named a few tenants that they would like to attract, including Anthropologie, Nordstrom Rack and Trader Joe’s. The mall also would retain Macy’s. What’s interesting is that all of those tenants make up part of the mix at Twenty Ninth Street in Boulder, which enjoys very high occupancy. So developers may not be original, but they know what works.
And I should note that Twenty Ninth Street itself was a redevelopment of the old Crossroads Mall, which had declined in the wake of competition at FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield.
O’Toole: Chris, I want to just quickly touch on another story the Boulder County Business Report has published this week. It’s on the Internet front. Tell us about what a Boulder company is doing with Twitter.
Wood: Yes, this story is too cool and too mind-boggling not to mention, Erin. Gnip, a Boulder social-media startup, has unveiled plans to create a searchable archive of every public Tweet ever created, or, as the company puts it, “from the beginning of time.” Users will be able to access the entire archive, or search in a set time period.
So if you’re dying to know what Justin Bieber has tweeted on the geopolitical situation, you’re in luck.