Glenwood Springs City Council agrees to support mall urban renewal plan | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood Springs City Council agrees to support mall urban renewal plan

A shopper walks into the GNC store in the West Glenwood Springs Mall on a slow Tuesday afternoon this week.

Glenwood Springs City Council on Thursday approved two urban renewal resolutions aimed at "acquiring the toolbox" necessary to redevelop two separate Glenwood Mall properties in West Glenwood.

As previously reported, Frank Wood, owner of the Glenwood Springs Mall located at 51027 Highway 6 and 24, has requested help from the city to revitalize the property and attract what he hopes will be new-to-market, high quality tenants.

According to a West Glenwood Springs Conditions Survey prepared for the city by Ricker Cunningham out of Littleton, the mall's 2011 a lease agreement with anchor tenant Ross Dress for Less, Inc. has effectively "made it all-but impossible for [the mall] to freely manage the mall properties in a manner appropriate for the market and commensurate with operators of comparable facilities."

The same survey indicated the primary mall building had a vacancy rate of approximately 90 percent compared to the city's overall commercial vacancy rate of 3 percent.

Appearing before City Council at its regular meeting Thursday was Wood's attorney, Carolynne C. White of the Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law firm in Denver.

"As the attorney for the owner of the mall, has it ever come to you that you might consider taking that contract to court and getting a favorable judgment and so that we wouldn't be needing an urban renewal authority to bring that about?" Glenwood Springs City Councilor Rick Voorhees asked. "I know that's a loaded question, but I am just curious what the thinking is."

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White replied, "I am afraid I am not going to be able to answer it for a couple of reasons.

"One, I am not that kind of attorney; I am an urban renewal attorney. And, I am not the main person that has been handling the lease negotiations. But, even if I were, the legal advice that I might give my client about how best to address this problem would not be something that I would be able to discuss in a public meeting."

Why the city would work in conjunction with the Glenwood Springs Mall, which afforded Ross Dress for Less a deal which has caused fewer tenants, was difficult for some to understand.

However, given City Council's 6-0 vote in favor of both urban renewal resolutions, in the case of the Glenwood Springs Mall, letting the free market run its course was overshadowed by the lack of foot traffic to the few remaining mall tenants besides Ross.

"First year was great," Goofballs Party Store owner Randy DeHerrera said. "Since we have been there, nine tenants have moved out and not one has been replaced. We have seen a major sales decline, about 30 percent."

DeHerrera and his wife, B.J., have operated their family-owned business in the mall since December 2015.

"It is really affecting us that one tenant can have that much control over the mall … and this is hearsay, but tenants have been wanting to come into the mall but they can't because Ross won't allow them," DeHerrera explained before councilors.

"People are like, bring back the movie theater, get some kind of entertainment for the locals. Bring the locals back into Glenwood Springs," B.J. DeHerrera said of some of the ideas she had heard from the community.

"The bottom line is, one tenant controlling the whole mall and deciding who goes in there, which is ridiculous," Randy DeHerrera emphasized.

"I just question the remedy here for a bad business decision," Voorhees added. "I am going to vote for it. I wish that there had been a modicum of common sense back whenever this contract was signed."

mabennett@postindependent.com