- Associated Press - Saturday, February 14, 2015

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) - In a time when “dead malls” are so prevalent that regular Buzzfeed articles tout titles such “Completely Surreal Photos of America’s Abandoned Malls,” the Greeley Mall is trying to make a comeback.

The Greeley Mall is bucking the trend of dying malls by staying relevant to area consumers, said Shawl Pryor, senior vice president of real estate for Moonbeam Capital Investments, which owns the mall.

Pryor said management has been making changes to help existing stores’ profits and to draw in new ones. There are some prospects for new retailers and possibly even a new anchor store in the near future, Pryor said.

“When we purchased (the mall), it was 50 percent vacant,” Pryor said. “Now it’s at 70 percent, and that’s not counting the tenants that are coming in the coming months.”

To some locals who saw the mall in its heyday, it might seem as if the Greeley Mall is one of those many dying malls across the American landscape.

Pryor said the mall is in a revitalization period.

Pryor said they are working to draw in new retailers, and because of the economic climate in Greeley, they believe they have been successful so far. The mall is part of the city’s urban renewal development area.

“We are really confident that the mall has the potential to really be a fully revitalized center,” said Becky Safarik, assistant city manager. “We’ll do everything we can from a technical assistance level and a support level.”

Safarik said with all of the redevelopment going on along 23rd Avenue, they will be keeping a close eye on the neighborhood.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth in both the tenants we’ve brought in and the sales per square foot for our retailers,” Pryor said. “We show them doing better today than three years ago.”

The Greeley Mall opened in 1973 with four anchor stores and one junior anchor as well as many inline stores within the mall.

In 2004, the mall was renovated but that didn’t stop The Gap from leaving in 2005, creating a large open space. American Eagle left the next year.

A lot of the uncertainty surrounding the mall over the past decade is due to the construction of lifestyle centers, such as the Promenade Shops at Centera at Interstate 25 and U.S. 34 and CenterPlace on U.S. 34, which create a lot of competition.

In 2008, Dillard’s left the mall, leaving 124,000 square feet of dead space.

The mall changed ownership many times throughout the years before Moonbeam bought it in 2012 for $6.1 million, just a fraction of what it was considered to be worth six years earlier when Chicago-based GK Development paid $41.4 million for it.

The entire mall concept has changed in the past 20 years, made evident by the more than $300 million renovation going on at Foothills Mall in Fort Collins.

“If we look at the history of malls, in the ‘90s we saw a lot of de-malling,” or a breakdown of malls, Pryor said, to create big box centers, town centers and lifestyle centers.

Pryor said they are planning some remodeling in the near future at the Greeley Mall to create more of what people are looking for.

“In the early to mid-2000s, we see where these same shoppers want a little enclosed mall as well as the town center due to inclement weather,” he said.

A lot has changed, from the way people shop to the amount of stores now available to the normal consumer, Pryor said.

“It’s not just a hang out like it used to be,” Pryor said. “People go to the mall for a specific reason to make a specific purchase.”

The mall researches and chooses the stores in the mall according to what the community needs, Pryor said. Then the stores are moved around to create a good flow for customers.

“When you look at the demographic and household income it allows you a better opportunity to go out and find those retailers to best serve that area,” he said.

People like retailers, of course, but now they want other options and entertainment on top of the stores, Pryor said.

“A lot of restaurants are becoming part of the mall because people don’t just want to shop,” he said. “They want to find a restaurant to eat or some type of entertainment.”

A New York Times article written earlier this year said since 2010, more than two dozen enclosed shopping malls have been closed in the U.S., and an additional 60 are on the brink. The article said online shopping is the reason often cited for the decline of enclosed malls, but that online sales account for less than 10 percent of retail sales.

Pryor said they also work to create foot traffic into the mall.

The mall does so by hosting events such as Santa’s workshop around Christmas and the Easter Bunny around Easter.

“There are a number of various different activities that happen inside the enclosed mall,” Pryor said. “A lot of programs we don’t just do at the Greeley Mall, but we do nationally as a company.”

It’s all about drawing the crowd in and staying relevant in the community, Pryor said.


Information from: The Tribune of Greeley, Co, https://greeleytribune.com

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