5:00am

Thu February 27, 2014
Business

Big Changes In Store For Foothills Mall, Fort Collins

The city of Fort Collins has broken ground on a long anticipated $300 million redevelopment of Foothills Mall.

Grace Hood heads to the mall for Morning Edition

“Everywhere I go I hear from people saying, ‘Please do something for the mall.’ That’s been the last 10 years,” said Fort Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry. “I am delighted that today that we can say there’s a lot happening.”

Over the last decade, the city has struggled to revitalize the 1970s Foothills Mall, considering five proposals and three ownership models. The redevelopment plan will include a retail space that’s half open air and half indoors.

City officials lined up, shovels at the ready, for the groundbreaking at Foothills Mall.
Credit Grace Hood / KUNC

Fort Collins Mayor Karen Weitkunat praised the infrastructure commitments the city has made to the development. Plans include a new Youth Center and an underpass to connect Foothills Mall to the Mason Street corridor — where rapid transit will launch this spring.

“Included in this project are things that make Fort Collins better,” she said.

It’s part of a $53 million incentive package the city offered to mall owner Alberta Development Partners.

“These are important to our community and the second piece of that is that it stimulates the activity in this area,” Weitkunat said.

City officials report that net taxable sales are more than half what they were compared to one decade ago. Looking around the mall grounds Wednesday, there was a slow trickle of traffic near the Sear’s entrance. Some shops are staying open during the renovation. Others like LensCrafters are closing for a year.

“It’s not as busy as it used to be, but it will be soon,” said Kerri Petruso, manager of LensCrafters. “We’re just excited that it’s finally happening. We’re jazzed about this.”

Around the corner an excavator started tearing down a wall at the space that used to be occupied by Mervyn’s.

“Every building comes down here except for the Macy’s and part of the interior corridor of the mall,” said Don Provost with mall owner Alberta Development Partners. “You’ll see a lot of demolition and you’ll see the new buildings coming back up.”

Provost said his company is a couple of months away from announcing which tenants it’s signed to be part of the redeveloped mall.

So will a town known for microbrews have a microbrewery at its new mall?

“You’ll see a lot of restaurants serving beer,” said Provost. “We’re talking a few concepts that may do on-site brewpubs.”

The mall redesign and tenants will come together to offer a unique sense of place and environment. Provost said that’s important as brick and mortar stores are increasingly competing with online retailers.

“I think that ultimately you have to provide a different experience,” he said. “And if you can provide a difference experience, people will come out for that.”

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