REI next new tenant at Foothills Mall?

In the months since the city of Fort Collins and developers behind the revitalization of the Foothills Mall reached agreement on a financing package, the first question many Fort Collins residents asked was: “What new stores will be in the mall?” Mall developer Alberta Development Partners has declined to identify new retail tenants until the list is complete, a common practice in retail development, but city documents obtained by the Business Report point toward at least one potential new tenant: Recreational Equipment Inc., or REI.

Two separate emails between city staff and Foothills project consultants mention REI as part of the mall. The outdoor retailer currently inhabits a 19,900-square-foot building at4025 S. College Ave, according to Larimer County records.

The emails are dated Oct. 1 and Oct. 3 and address the changes in the mall plans, which are scheduled to go back before the city’s planning and zoning board Nov. 21.

“The main change is REI got a bit smaller,” states the Oct. 3 email, which was written by an employee of Economic and Planning Systems, a consultant on the project.

A representative from REI would not confirm that the store was moving to the new mall, only that REI is “always looking for opportunities.” Representatives from Alberta did not respond to requests for comment.

Fort Collins Economic Health Director Josh Birks suggested that “REI” in the emails may refer to something other than the retailer.

“I cannot confirm the status of any tenants,” Birks said in an email. “REI has been used on some planning documents to signify a particular space; however, it would be speculation at this point to interpret that as confirmation of a tenant commitment.”

The $313 million project is nearly six months behind its original schedule. Issues surrounding the location of the Youth Activity Center, to be renamed Foothills Activity Center, and the Arc Thrift Store have been sticking points for the project.

The May agreement approved a $53 million public financing package to aid the mall’s $313 million redevelopment.

The project was supposed to break ground this summer, with a projected opening for the holiday season in 2014, but in late September, Alberta officials announced that the project would be delayed indefinitely. New plans show the redeveloped mall about 10 percent smaller than originally intended and with the opening date pushed back to 2015.

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