Mall talks continue past city’s deadline

LONGMONT – A key Twin Peaks Mall redevelopment deadline passed on Friday, March 1, but the project still appears to be moving forward.

Dillard’s department store representatives are negotiating with the owners of Twin Peaks Mall to come to a deal on mall redevelopment plans – specifically, a site plan, Julie Bull, Dillard’s spokeswoman, said Friday.

While the city of Longmont set the March 1 deadline, both the mayor pro tempore and the city’s economic development director characterized it more as a scheduling issue rather than as a deadline that would carry penalties.

“As long as everyone is playing well together, I guess I’m fine with it,” Gabe Santos, mayor pro tempore, said Monday, March 4. “As far as I know, everyone is still talking.”

Negotiations between the two parties are a “complex transaction with a lot of moving parts,” according to Allen Ginsborg, the NewMark Merrill developer heading the project.

“We very much would like Dillard’s as part of the project, so we still hope we can figure something out,” Ginsborg said.

Dillard’s (NYSE: DDS), which owns the building it occupies at the mall, can prohibit any new development on the mall site, based on an existing agreement between the retailer and mall owners that was signed decades ago, Ginsborg has said. Dillard’s representatives have said the department store company wants to continue to operate at the site.

Negotiations can continue until there’s a mutual decision that the two parties can’t make progress, Brad Power, Longmont economic development director, said Friday.

At the same time, the Longmont City Council has scheduled a private meeting for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, to discuss “negotiation positions and strategies regarding redevelopment of the Twin Peaks Mall and the potential acquisition of property interests therein,” according to the city of Longmont’s website.

City Council members also are expected to “receive legal advice, provide instructions to negotiators and consider confidential documents” at the executive session, which is expected to be closed to the public.

Ginsborg has said he does not expect to attend Tuesday’s meeting. He was not immediately available for comment on Monday.

Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) held a status meeting with NewMark Merrill on Thursday, Feb. 28, and expects to sign a new lease for the redevelopment project by Friday, March 15, said Russ Nunley, vice president for marketing and communications for the Knoxville, Tennessee,-based company. Regal operates the existing 10-screen United Artists theaters at the site. March 15 is the city’s scheduled date for negotiations to be complete with Regal.

“We’ve been meeting everything the city asked us to do,” Nunley said. “The theater deal is coming together very nicely, with positive news on our end.”

NewMark Merrill bought the aging indoor mall for $8.5 million last year. Since then, Ginsborg has said he has spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on the project. Newmark Merrill has met the other two key points needed to receive $27.5 million in urban-renewal authority bonds.

One point was to sign an agreement with a 100,000-square-foot retailer, he said, and the other was to sign a letter of intent with a natural-foods grocery store. The new development is slated to be complete in fall 2014.

NewMark Merrill continues to make progress in signing other retailers to the redeveloped shopping center, Ginsborg has said. He said he is optimistic that development will happen “on schedule” to “give everybody a new shopping center for the holidays next year.”

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