A whole new take on an old mall has a Colorado community celebrating

With the breathtaking Twin Peaks of the Colorado Rockies as backdrop, a new project underway in Longmont, Colo., is leveraging both the views and community demand to create a “top drawer outdoor village experience,” said Allen Ginsborg, managing director and principal of NewMark Merrill Mountain States, based in Fort Collins, Colo.

Ginsborg -- and Sandy Sigal, NewMark Merrill Cos. CEO -- aren’t the only drivers behind the 500,000-sq.-ft., yet-to-be-branded regional center.  The community has been an integral part of the process that is transforming a depleted asset – Twin Peaks Mall – into a vibrant, amenity-laden town core.

The circa 1985, 560,000-sq.-ft. enclosed regional mall was anchored at one time by J.C. Penney, Dillards, Joslins, Sears and Regal Cinema, but was solidly in decline by the time NewMark Merrill got involved in 2009 to advise new ownership on redevelopment opportunities for the tired asset.

“J.C. Penney and Regal Cinemas had already vacated, and Twin Peaks Mall was clearly in need of an overhaul,” said Ginsborg. “We took over management of the property in 2010, spent about a year evaluating it and then presented the ownership with four options: They could redevelop it on their own, we could joint-venture the redevelopment with them, they could sell it, or they could give it back to the bank.”

The Mall went into foreclose in 2010 and NewMark Merrill acquired it through a deed in lieu transaction in February 2012. That’s when a big plan for the 60-acre site began to take shape.

Ginsborg and his team went straight to the townspeople of Longmont to find out exactly what they wanted from the property. “We surveyed about 1,000 community members to determine their likes, dislikes, and retail wish lists. We had community meetings, we mutually shared plans and ideas – we even had a Facebook page dedicated to community input,” said Ginsborg.

The team extrapolated key priorities from the input: “First and foremost, the community wanted a modernized, stadium-style movie theater. They also wanted a natural grocer. And they wanted a large-format discounter, restaurants and entertainment uses, and a community gathering place,” said Ginsborg.  

In other words, they wanted everything they didn’t currently have. And NewMark Merrill aimed to give it to them. The team worked with the city council to develop a business model toward underwriting redevelopment, which resulted in a $27.5 million bond agreement – and the official start to a massive project that involves razing the existing mall and creating a 500,000-sq.-ft. destination, uniquely designed with a complete outdoor village experience at the entrance and parking fields on the periphery.

“Visitors will park and walk through the village,” said Ginsborg. That makes total sense when the project is in Longmont, where the weather and the mountain views are unmatched and people like to be outside.

Tenant negotiations are well underway with a large-format warehouse club, and “we expect to have a 12-screen Regal Cinema with RPX, a natural grocer, along with several restaurants and a lineup of local boutique and apparel merchants,” said Ginsborg. When the redevelopment opens in latter 2014, it will feature approximately 400,000 sq. ft. of anchor space and 100,000 sq. ft. of smaller boutique and specialty retail.

The leasing traction isn’t a surprise – the trade area is expansive, extending from the edges of tony Boulder to the south, the Carbon Valley to the east, and north to Berthoud and Loveland. The population is affluent, with an average annual household income of almost$100,000, a total trade area containing upwards of 285,000 people and the site boasts a daily traffic count of 69,000Retailers have been waiting for the right opportunity to enter the Longmont market for years..

At a time when store expansion is limited, and tenants have become extraordinarily choosy about where they grow, a shopping center developer has to give them a reason to come. “We are giving Longmont a place to call their own,” said Ginsborg.

That has more power than you might think. Ginsborg and his team have injected themselves into the community, become intimately aware of what the area wants and needs, and has bent over backward to meet the demand. “They lost their primary community gathering place, which was the Twin Peaks Mall,” he said. “And we are giving it back to them.”

For leasing information, contact:
Allen Ginsborg, aginsborg@newmarkmerrill.com, 970-377-1135

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