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Taking Retail to the Streets

BY CSA STAFF

Denver is the city of eye candy. Panoramic views of glorious mountain ranges, skies made bluer by the altitude, rugged architecture, a dramatic downtown skyline—all act as visual magnets to draw residents, tourists and businesses to Colorado’s capital city.

Southglenn Mall was an eyesore amid the eye candy. Built as a classic enclosed suburban mall in 1974, the once-thriving center disintegrated in the latter 1990s after Park Meadows Mall opened six miles away and caused a significant shift in south-metro shopping patterns.

And, yet, among the ruins was still the core value of premier real estate. Located at the intersection of two major arterials—Arapahoe and University—about five miles west of the bustling Denver Tech Center, Southglenn was a vision waiting to be realized. Chicago-based Walton Street Capital purchased the mall for $52 million in 1999, brought in joint-venture partner Alberta Development Partners, based in nearby Greenwood Village, Colo., in 2005, and a plan was hatched to create a destination befitting the city that surrounded it.

“Southglenn Mall was about as distressed a property as you would see in the U.S.,” said Don Provost, founding principal of Alberta Development. “But we had a compelling vision for what the property ultimately will become—a true mixed-use, multi-anchored destination.” Getting there has been nothing short of a major challenge. Existing anchors J.C. Penney and Dillard’s were acquired and then razed along with the mall’s interior. Remaining were a Sears’ box at one end and a Macy’s at the other—both remaining and each undergoing a major rehab.

Emerging from the rubble is The Streets at SouthGlenn, an open-air project that blends 202 luxury for-rent apartments with Class-A office space with entertainment and significant retail that includes Whole Foods Market and Barnes & Noble flagship stores, and a powerful junior-anchor lineup. Then there’s the eye candy.

“What we are creating is a great place, one that combines the sensory perception of hardscape, landscape, light fixtures, music, hanging baskets, architecture, storefronts, trees, banners—the entire project when woven together creates not a singular reaction, but a total experience,” said Provost. A city-block-long park called The Commons will feature a 30-ft.-high cast-stone European fountain that is temperature-controlled to work year-round, a dramatic raised-hearth outdoor fireplace, an intimate bistro-style coffeehouse fashioned after Tavern on the Green, and mature trees transplanted from other parts of the property and joined by other lush plant materials. Fifteen-ft.-high book sculptures will adorn the library lawn. A children’s area will feature authentic playground equipment, and an ice rink designed for public skating will fill the center of The Commons during the winter months.

Department store anchors Macy’s and Sears have remained open throughout the redevelopment, and Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Staples and Macy’s Furniture Gallery will open in fall 2008. The remainder of the project, including the office and residential components, will open in May 2009.

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Wal-Mart to sell earth-friendly CDs

BY CSA STAFF

SANTA MONICA, Calif. As part of Wal-Mart’s “Earth Month” the company is selling more than 20 Universal Music Group titles that come with special earth-friendly inserts. The inserts are made with special seed paper and, according to the companies, can actually bloom into wildflowers.

The inserts, in addition to being good for the environment, also offer consumers three free digital downloads from Universal Music. Universal also said that a number of its new CDs will be packaged in third-party certified, renewable recycled board and recyclable paper.

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ODP urges rejection of Levan nominees

BY CSA STAFF

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. Office Depot is continuing to urge its shareholders to reject dissident nominees and elect the company’s nominees to its board of directors at its annual shareholders meeting this April.

In a proxy statement sent to investors, Office Depot said that Alan Levan’s proposed nominees would do little to help improve shareholder value. According to the statement, Levan’s company, Levitt Corp. has seen its share price fall about 93% over the past three years and that its subsidiary, Levitt and Sons, is in bankruptcy. Office Depot also noted that BankAtlantic, of which Levan is chairman and ceo and one of his nominees, is president of real estate, construction and development, share price has dropped approximately 75% over the past three years.

Office Depot also cited news reports that commented on Levan’s failing business ventures, as well as others that said that his nominees are not qualified to serve on Office Depot’s board of directors.

The company pointed out nominee Mark Begelman’s experience with Mars Music, a company he founded in 1997 that went bankrupt in 2002. According to Office Depot, many news reports attributed this failure to a flawed business strategy.

According to Office Depot, when Levan’s other nominee, Martin Hanaka served as chairman of Sports Authority from 1998 to 2003, the company saw its price fall by about 13%.

Office Depot stressed that its directors best understand the company and are well-suited to help the company grow.

“We strongly believe that removing two of the most experienced retailing executives from our board, including our current ceo who is driving the implementation of our strategic turnaround plan, would be highly disruptive, could delay the implementation of internal and external initiatives and could damage prospects for a successful turnaround,” Office Depot said in the proxy statement.

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