September 28, 2012

1982 – Boulder’s strategy stopped Centennial mall project

The demise of the proposed Centennial Valley Fashion Mall in Louisville was considered by local media the top business story in Boulder County in 1982.

With much fanfare on Louisville’s part, plans for the fashion mall were announced in 1979. It was to be developed through a joint venture between Homart Development Co., a unit of Sears that developed shopping centers nationally, and Jacobs-Kahan, a commercial real estate developer based in Chicago. Sears was to be one primary anchor tenant. But a second one was needed.

Boulder’s claim to retail fame, Crossroads shopping center, had not been redeveloped since its opening in the mid-1960s and was limping along.

Louisville proceeded to annex, despite court challenges, about 1,300 acres surrounding the U.S. 36/Louisville interchange and zone it for both the shopping center and residential development. Revenue-starved Louisville expected the fashion mall to contribute some $2.5 million a year in sales taxes by the center’s build-out in 1990. Meanwhile, Homart and Jacobs-Kahan searched for a second anchor tenant. “The key piece was what was then known as May D&F (now Foley’s),” said Don Shonkwiler,

Homart development director from the mid-1980s until 1996.

May D&F, as well as Sears, had been searching for a place to put stores in the northwest metro area for some time. It was the only significant population region in the country that Sears, in particular, did not have a presence. Homart, Shonkwiler said, believed it had leverage with May D&F because it also had plans for a regional shopping center south of Denver.

What Homart didn’t have, however, was an existing shopping center. Boulder did. It also had, with lightning speed, created the Boulder Urban Renewal Authority, or BURA, which in six weeks managed to sell about $30 million worth of bonds to help pay for the $54 million renovation and expansion of Crossroads. That was enough to lure May D&F.

In July 1982, Homart and Jacobs-Kahan announced they were withdrawing from the project because they couldn’t get a commitment from another major department store.

In hindsight, the irony in this story abounds.

David Stahl, Homart’s development director in 1982, said while Sears’ Homart division was courting May D&F, Sears’ auto insurance company, AllState, was purchasing Boulder’s redevelopment bonds.

The demise of the proposed Centennial Valley Fashion Mall in Louisville was considered by local media the top business story in Boulder County in 1982.

With much fanfare on Louisville’s part, plans for the fashion mall were announced in 1979. It was to be developed through a joint venture between Homart Development Co., a unit of Sears that developed shopping centers nationally, and Jacobs-Kahan, a commercial real estate developer based in Chicago. Sears was to be one primary anchor tenant. But a second one was needed.

Boulder’s claim to retail fame, Crossroads shopping center, had not been redeveloped since its opening…

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