‘A mall without stores:’ Glenwood Springs Urban Renewal Authority meets as another mall tenant relocates
As the Glenwood Springs Urban Renewal Authority convened earlier this week in city hall, Randy DeHerrera was busy pulling up carpet tiles in his small business.
DeHerrera and his wife BJ DeHerrera own and operate Goofballs Party Store in the Glenwood Springs Mall.
However, since opening in December 2015, the DeHerreras have watched over a dozen tenants abandon the mall, leaving the majority of the shopping center’s once lively storefronts dark.
“We were disappointed because we thought the (Urban Renewal Authority) was going to help us as a small business,” Randy DeHerrera said. “You can’t have a mall without stores.”
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Like many of the facility’s tenants over the years, the DeHerreras have decided to relocate, too.
Come Feb. 1, Goofballs Party Store will operate out of its new location in the West Glenwood Plaza near Culver’s.
“We had a lot of faith in the (Urban Renewal Authority) helping to get this mall back in order,” Randy DeHerrera said. “But, it’s been 13 months and absolutely nothing.”
On Dec. 6, 2018 the Glenwood Springs City Council unanimously approved the West Glenwood Springs Urban Renewal Authority Plan to encourage redevelopment at the mall properties located at 51027 Highway 6 and 24.
At the time, City Manager Debra Figueroa said the city was working with mall owner Frank Woods – at his request – to help revitalize the property and attract new-to-market, high-quality tenants.
According to the West Glenwood Springs Urban Renewal Authority Plan, the mall’s anchor tenant – Ross Dress For Less, Inc. – has a lease agreement that extends “extraordinary control” to Ross thus making it “all-but impossible” for Woods to “freely manage the mall properties.”
The plan also reported inline space within the mall building as being “approximately 90 percent vacant.”
The citywide commercial vacancy rate, according to the plan prepared in 2018, was “approximately 3 percent.”
Additionally, city council can allocate municipal sales tax for urban renewal projects.
Lawsuits bring delays
While the city had hoped the urban renewal authority would convene earlier, lawsuits prevented that from happening.
In May, 9th Judicial District Court Judge Denise K. Lynch dismissed a lawsuit filed by Ross Dress for Less challenging the city of Glenwood Springs’ establishment of an urban renewal authority and its approval of the West Glenwood Springs Urban Renewal Authority Plan.
Lynch then dismissed the amended complaint in its entirety.
“An appeal of the ruling has been delayed over the past several months while the parties discussed settlement,” Jenn Ooton, assistant city manager, said.
According to City Attorney Karl Hanlon, Ross and the city have been working closely “to find a solution that works for both parties.”
Hanlon declined to comment further as to what that solution could entail.
However, a “Ross settlement agreement,” previously listed on the Urban Renewal Authority’s regular meeting agenda this week was later removed.
“We are not quite there yet,” Hanlon said at the urban renewal authority meeting.
Ooton said the city anticipates holding a special urban renewal authority meeting on Jan. 16 “to consider a possible settlement of claims.”
A representative with the Glenwood Springs Mall declined to comment for this article.
Who’s on the Urban Renewal Authority?
The 11-member urban renewal authority consists of the Glenwood Springs City Council, Garfield County Commissioner John Martin, civil engineer Tate Fairbanks and representatives from the school board and Garfield County Libraries.
Councilman Rick Voorhees and Mayor Jonathan Godes were selected by the members to serve as the authority’s chair and vice-chair, respectively.
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