Littleton, Southwest Plaza exploring deal

Some stores closing as remodel looms for mall

Jennifer Smith
Southwest Plaza in Jefferson County is preparing for a remodel.

What's definite is that Southwest Plaza is getting ready to undergo a substantial remodel. What's unconfirmed is that to facilitate that, an annexation into the city of Littleton proper might be in the works.

“They're remodeling, and we were told to turn in our keys on Friday, and that's all we know,” said Shay Crane, manager of Aeropostale.

Leading up to its last day of business on Jan. 26, the store looked like somebody's yard sale and everything was marked down 75 percent.

Other stores with closing doors at the mall include It's Your Move, Cinnabon, Icing and Wet Seal.

And although officials will not confirm details, sources close to the situation say representatives of General Growth Properties, which owns both Southwest Plaza and Park Meadows, are exploring a deal to make the mall's Littleton mailing address a physical reality.

“There isn't any formal proposal right now, so there are no details at present,” said Kathryn Heider, public information officer for Jefferson County.

Lots of folks probably thought the mall was in Littleton all along, but it's actually in unincorporated south Jefferson County. Joining the city would add a 3 percent municipal sales tax to all purchases made there, not including groceries, which would likely add a pretty penny to the city coffers.

An annexation could be accomplished via the “flagpole” method, with the city annexing rights-of-ways west on Bowles Avenue from Sheridan Boulevard, where the current border is, all the way up to and including the Super Target to the west of the mall, sources say. If that happens, any adjacent property, commercial or residential, could request to be included in the annexation.

An incentive to come into Littleton could be that the mall could then benefit from becoming a business improvement district under the watchful eye of the city's urban-renewal authority, named the Riverfront Authority after the shopping-center project it oversaw in the 1980s. That building is now Echostar, on the southwest corner of Santa Fe Drive and Bowles.

In a BID, retailers in the mall would charge customers a fee on top of other taxes in order to fund improvements — a large-scale remodel, for example.

Southwest Plaza opened in 1983 with 150 storefronts in more than 1.3 million square feet. It was last renovated in 2001.

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