Foothills Redevelopment Still In Limbo
The holiday shopping season is well underway but delays continue to plague the redevelopment of Foothills Mall in Fort Collins.
The mall was built in 1973 and expanded in 1980 and 1989. Redevelopment talks with the city began almost immediately after the mall was sold to California-based General Growth Properties in 2005. But the company went bankrupt soon after. Talks began again in 2012 when the mall was sold to Alberta Partners.
But nothing with the project has been easy and the project missed a summer deadline for ground breaking.
The Fort Collins Planning and Zoning board will take a vote on the next steps and future of the project during a Dec. 12 meeting.
The redevelopment project was approved back in May, so are we still talking about delays?
“The redevelopment was given the “green light” in May. But almost immediately, the project began to change and the changes have triggered new financing negotiations, new designs, new tenant plans, new cost estimates and another round of reviews by the city. In the meantime, the city has racked up more than $220,000 in additional costs for outside consulting work. The developers have paid the additional costs, but it all serves to drive up the cost of the project.”
The new mall was supposed to open a year from now. When did planners realize that target date was no longer realistic?
“In an email dated July 25, 2013 one of the city’s bond consultants wrote a message mentioning "moving the opening to holiday 2015." That was the first official recognition that the project potentially faced major delays.”
Even with the ongoing delays – I think most people are probably curious about what new stores will occupy the mall. Do we have any retail intelligence on that yet?
“The developers have said repeatedly that they won’t release tenant names until it has a full roster. But e-mails obtained by the Business Report indicate that several local retailers are moving to the mall, including REI, although again, things remain in flux. We also know that Dave and Busters initially planned to be there, but it no longer appears in planning documents that we obtained under the Colorado Open Records Act.”
Wasn’t the city hoping the mall would attract new retailers instead of existing businesses?
“The relocation of REI and other existing retailers is a major concern to the city, because it worries that the new mall will “cannibalize” its existing retail sales tax base. This issue has been hotly debated between the developer and the city. In fact the e-mails indicate the city wants at least 25 percent to 50 percent of the tenants to be new to Fort Collins. At one point the city said if the developers didn’t recruit enough “new” stores, it would not consent to allowing a huge bond sale to move forward. Without that, of course, there would be no cash to fund the construction.”
Jeff Nuttall is the publisher of the Northern Colorado Business Report.