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 December 3, 1999

Outdoor village part of new mall trend

EDITOR’S NOTE: Third in a series of Business Report stories on development projects under construction or proposed for the area of the 96th Street Interchange with U.S. 36 and in Interlocken business park.

BROOMFIELD – It’s a hit.

The “outdoor village” concept that’s part of FlatIron Crossing, a 1.5 million-square-foot shopping mall under construction here, is probably the hottest trend in retail development nationwide, says an executive of Westcor Partners, developer of the new regional mall.

But FlatIron Crossing, he says, will push the successful concept a step farther. David Scholl, Westcor senior vice president, says FlatIron Crossing is one of very few malls nationwide to capitalize on the concept of a traditional indoor mall coupled with an outdoor village, and that, if FlatIron Crossing is successful, it will be a new model for future regional mall development.

“If we’re successful, it certainly could become a trend,” he said.

The outdoor village concept, which ultimately is modeled after older downtown areas, has been given a number of names nationally, Scholl explains. Most often such developments are called Main Street retail. They are notably set up in a pattern similar to city blocks. For example, Westcor’s outdoor village, 220,000 square feet, is one-eighth of a mile or two city blocks. It goes right up to a plaza that is one of the mall’s “green spaces.”

Westcor seeks to offer an “outdoor experience,” according to one spokeswoman who said the village would have “a neighborhood feel” similar to Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall or Denver’s Cherry Creek North.

Denver-based retail analyst Mary Beth Jenkins, president of the Laramie Co., said Scholl is hitting the mark.

“It is what the consumers are wanting,” she said. “Westcor’s on the ball.”

Jenkins said the model of Main Street retail coupled with an enclosed mall has most successfully been achieved at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif., where 10 blocks “dead-end” into an enclosed mall. She notes that shopping mall developers are really mimicking developments such as Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall, “heralded nationally” for attracting local and national retailers in “a strolling environment” at a time when the cold world of the Internet dominates.

Littleton-based retail analyst Tim Gonerka says there’s a difference between the outdoor village concept that’s generating heat nationwide and what Westcor has going because Westcor’s “is closer to the more traditional strip center attachment” than the high-end centers that are designed to be more pedestrian-friendly and offer “a sense of place.”

Westcor, he said, proposes to create automatically a Cherry Creek Mall and Cherry Creek North “without the history to it,” and that the outdoor portion of Westcor’s project allows retailers that couldn’t afford to locate within the mall to locate within the vicinity.

‘Retro approach’

Scholl explains that the traditional enclosed regional mall is looking for ways to sneak up on customers. “It’s a retro approach,” he said.

In the days before women went to work en masse, they would push strollers up and down the streets of shopping districts. The current demographic isn’t going that way, but the largest segment of the population, baby-boomers, are fast becoming empty nesters.

That means they have lots of free time on their hands that used to be spent going to events such as high school football games. Scholl says retailers and developers around the country know aging baby-boomers want an experience when they shop or venture out for entertainment. That brought about stadium seating and other new ways to watch movies.

Tenants want to reflect the way people live.

“That’s what we’re hoping our village can do,” Scholl said.

‘Me generation’

The same generation that was called the “me generation” is 15 to 20 years older now, and retailers are focusing on how to adapt their concept to that huge segment of the population. Boomers are in their peak earning years and are “flush with money,” Scholl noted. But they’re tired of buying things, so they’re redoing second homes and redoing existing homes – hence the proliferation of “lifestyles” centers with anchors such as Crate & Barrel.

Not just housing for entertainment and restaurants, Westcor’s village will offer services such as dry cleaners and postal centers for the employees from nearby Interlocken business park who will spend their lunch hours there.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Third in a series of Business Report stories on development projects under construction or proposed for the area of the 96th Street Interchange with U.S. 36 and in Interlocken business park.

BROOMFIELD – It’s a hit.

The “outdoor village” concept that’s part of FlatIron Crossing, a 1.5 million-square-foot shopping mall under construction here, is probably the hottest trend in retail development nationwide, says an executive of Westcor Partners, developer of the new regional mall.

But FlatIron Crossing, he says, will push the successful concept a step farther. David Scholl, Westcor senior vice president, says FlatIron Crossing is one of very few…

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