Work is going on behind the scenes to kick the Fort Collins mall revitalization project into high gear once the city’s financing agreement is signed.
While many unanswered questions remain about the proposed rejuvenation of Foothills Mall, developers say tenants have pre-leased or agreed to occupy 75 percent of restaurant space and 60 percent of retail space in the Midtown Fort Collins project.
That means the project is taking shape even though another month has ticked by while a $53 million financing agreement between the city of Fort Collins and developers remains unsigned.
In an interview with the Coloradoan, Alberta Development Partners principal Don Provost said talks are progressing well and he’s hopeful the financing agreement will be finalized soon.
Thus far, Alberta and development partner Walton Street Capital have spent $40 million to buy the property in July 2012, and another $7 million on engineering and architectural documents “to keep everything moving on a path that maximizes a return to our investors, the city and the citizens,” he said. “We want to see this happen.”
Provost said it will likely be another 30 days before he releases names of stores and restaurants staying at or coming to the 100-acre site. “We continue to have great dialogue with existing and new tenants but it’s still a big, complicated project,” he said.
Here’s an update on the project’s status:
• Foothills Activity Center: Developers are evaluating three potential locations on the property for the activity center. The center’s final location could impact retail space. “The locations that we are evaluating all work and provide different positives and negatives,” Provost said. “At the end of the day all are very good outcomes.” The location needs to be determined before the financing agreement can be signed, he said.
• Tres Margaritas: Provost said the company is negotiating to relocate the Mexican restaurant somewhere in Fort Collins.
• Christy Sports building: Alberta has reached agreement with Everitt Cos. to purchase the building, Provost said. Christy Sports has a lease but Provost said he is hopeful they can work something out. If not, Christy may stay until the end of its lease “and we will deal with them when their lease expires.”
• Arc Thrift Store: Alberta has an interim agreement with Arc that would allow the store to move to a new location in Fort Collins. The exact location has not been released. “We are hopeful that shortly we will have a final agreement.”
• Sears: Sears will remain on the property, moving into a freestanding store somewhere along College Avenue between Foothills Parkway and the existing Chico’s women’s clothing store.
• Opening date: Still set for late November 2014, although the window is rapidly closing. The longer it takes to reach agreement on the financing package the more doubtful it becomes Alberta can meet the 2014 opening.
“Everyone is motivated … it’s a very big, complicated project with a complicated finance agreement,” Provost said. “The devil’s in the details.” Developers are trying to create maximum flexibility while the city is working to protect its interest, he said. “All dialogue is positive along those lines” but an agreement has been hampered by vacations.
It has been 13 months since Alberta purchased Foothills Mall from General Growth Properties and put it on the fast track to regaining its former glory. Sales tax revenue at Foothills has declined precipitously since 2000, when it was considered the shopping hub of Northern Colorado. The mall was sold in 2003 to GGP, which promised redevelopment for the nearly 10 years it owned the property.
Alberta plans to raze much of the existing enclosed mall and most of its other properties, including The Shops, The Commons and the Plaza at Foothills, replacing them with new shops, restaurants, a theater, a parking garage, outdoor gathering spaces, the activity center and apartments.
Under the proposed package, the city expects the new shopping center will generate more than $117 million in new sales tax revenue for the city over 25 years. Within five years, the city anticipates revenue generated by the assistance package will be enough to cover the developer’s bond debt and the city will retain all sales tax generated from the project, estimated at $4 million in 2018 and growing 2 percent per year.
The finance package assumes the mall will reach 80 percent occupancy in 2015, its first full year of operation, and 95 percent occupancy by 2016.
Source: The Coloradoan