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Mall owners working to revive aging shopping center

Mall owners working to revive aging shopping center


Mall owners working to revive aging shopping center 

By Sharon Dunn
April 27, 2013
The Tribune


The Greeley Mall is on the third of its nine lives, now a year after being purchased out of foreclosure.

Mall manager Sandra O’Clock said with the economy rebounding, the mall is poised for some new life — again.

“For several years, the mall was pretty much on a don’t-do-anything-unless-you-have-to-mode,” O’Clock said last week, noting the mall is about 60 percent occupied. “Now, we’re able to be very aggressive and try different things.

“We’re finally at the point where we’ll start seeing some changes.”

The mall, built in 1973, thrived through the mid-1990s in Greeley. But recent years haven’t been so kind, as newer shopping areas went up, such as the Promenade Shops at Centerra in Loveland and Centerplace in west Greeley. Across America, indoor malls were slowly losing favor to the outside “lifestyle” centers offering a new way to shop — combining the feel of an old-town shopping district with modern amenities.

For several years, the mall was pretty much on a don’t-do-anything-unless-you-have-to-mode. Now, we’re able to be very aggressive and try different things. We’re finally at the point where we’ll start seeing some changes.

— Sandra O’Clock, Greeley Mall manager

California-based Macerich Co. sold the mall in 2006 to GK Development out of Chicago for $41.4 million, two years after spending millions to remodel it with a new food court and the addition of the Cinemark movie theater. GK, however was never able to revive mall traffic. In 2010, the financial crisis had its way with the mall, and GK was looking to restructure its loan. Last April, it went to a foreclosure auction.

Enter Moonbeam Equities, a Las Vegas-based real estate investment trust focusing on snapping up distressed properties throughout the country and flipping them, bought the mall for a fraction of its original asking price at $6.175 million. When the mall was on the auction block, sales had been dropping for years. In 2000, the mall properties generated $92 million in retail sales for the city. That dropped by to $82 million by 2006. Last year, sales dropped even further to $41.35 million, according to city records.

O’Clock said mall merchants have reported growth since 2011, with some coming in to renew their leases for three years, rather than one.

Rob Haimson, who opened Roadkill Sports Grill on the west end of the mall four years ago, said the outlying western shops have remained prosperous amid the decline.

“I think everything on the west side has been pretty successful, since I’ve been there, anyway,” Haimson said. “It looks like that side is alive.”

The mall’s east and south sides, however, are in need of help. O’Clock said she has been working with the city to improve signage, and discuss better entrances, on those less-frequented ends.

The bigger issue is finding anchors to house the long-vacant Dillards properties on the east end, which could accommodate two large users, or a host of users in different sizes.

O’Clock said she has several potential tenants interested in those spaces, but nothing firm yet. They know, bring in the anchors, and the rest will follow.

“The wheels have been in motion from the point of purchase, even prior to this company actually purchasing, we were already working on leasing,” O’Clock said. “When you’re dealing with national and larger tenants, the deals just don’t happen overnight.”

O’Clock has her sites set on the International Council of Shopping Centers annual convention May 19-21 in Las Vegas.

That’s where she hopes to gather contracts to get some anchors at the mall. She hopes to walk into that conference with a recent University of Northern Colorado survey, listing the top stores at which students would shop, to entice retailers to the Colorado plains.

Next week, she should get that survey and market analysis, conducted by students at the Monfort College of Business.

“We wanted to know the students’ needs, their habits and what they were looking for in shopping,” O’Clock said.

Ownership has instituted free Wi-Fi throughout the mall and is dabbling in social media with a Facebook page to capture a younger market, O’Clock said. Soon, the mall will unveil a new web page.

“No one’s reached out to college students before,” O’clock said, noting the mall’s cooperation with UNC during events.

While students would be the major draw to the center, O’Clock said she hopes the mall could attract traffic from outlying communities on the Eastern Plains, who may not want to travel to Denver or Loveland to shop.

“Because of our location, we are able to attract, and we do, from zip codes in Nebraska and Wyoming,” O’Clock said. “There’s a lot of ag and smaller communities that don’t want to go to Denver. They also want to see more stores and more variety. They want to see it thriving again.”

Dunn, S (2013, April 27), Mall owners working to revive aging shopping center, The Tribune, April 30, 2013,