Westminster officials are scrambling to find a replacement for the Tattered Cover in downtown Westminster after the company announced that branch would be closing later this month. Credit: Jane Reuter

The Tattered Cover was a star tenant when it opened in the city’s developing Downtown Westminster. Less than two years later, it’s closing.

Tattered Cover, Colorado’s largest independent bookstore, announced this week it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and will close three of its seven stores. Those include the Downtown Westminster location. The closings will happen fast — beginning Oct. 23 and wrapping up by early November.

The Westminster store opened in January 2022 inside the Origin Hotel. It was the first Tattered Cover store in the small chain with a bar, serving wine and local beer.

Westminster’s Tattered Cover was the only one of the store’s branches that carried alcohol. The branch is set to close later this month. Credit: Jane Reuter

Patrons of Westminster’s Tattered Cover are disappointed to see the bookstore go.

“I was sad to hear that,” said Arvada resident Michael Goodman, who said he and his wife frequently perused the store’s shelves after dining in downtown Westminster. “It’s nice to see a tangible bookstore these days, and it seemed like a nice spot to gather and have community.”

Denver’s Kavya Raju worked in the bookstore this week with two friends, one of whom lives in Boulder. The trio frequently meets at the Westminster Tattered Cover, a convenient spot between their homes.

“It’s a good community space,” Raju said. “Losing that is always sad. And I think the loss of bookstores is really sad.”

Tattered Cover CEO Brad Dempsey said the company has a history of acting as a lead tenant in developing areas, and that it “couldn’t take that risk right now.”

He cited inflation, the pandemic and back-to-back ownership changes as factors in the company’s decision, but said it remains committed to its remaining locations.

“This business is … a civic institution for Colorado,” he said. “We have total and complete dedication to make this work. We’re going to keep this legacy going.”

City dismayed but seeking replacement

Patrons of Tattered Cover in Westminster chat over coffee. The bookstore is scheduled to close later this month. Credit: Jane Reuter

City leaders said they’re also dismayed to lose the bookstore but will work to find a quality replacement.

“The city will work closely with the owners of the space … to recruit a new, exciting restaurant or retailer to our community,” said Economic Development Director Lindsey Kimball. “Downtown Westminster is a popular restaurant and retail destination with at least four new destinations coming online in the next six months, with dozens of townhomes coming online for sale over the next year.

“While we are disappointed to hear about Tattered Cover’s decision … we are confident in the future of Downtown Westminster.”

City Councilor Obi Ezeadi, whose book club met at the bookstore, is disappointed as both an elected official and a patron.

“The Tattered Cover was a community co-working space,” he said. “It connected a lot of folks together, and the ambiance was great. It leaves a hole in what they provided.”

But he said the city will keep working to fill vacant spaces in Downtown Westminster, and move forward with approved developments there.

Westminster officials are scrambling to find a replacement for the Tattered Cover in downtown Westminster after the company announced that branch would be closing later this month. Credit: Jane Reuter

“The downtown is one of the city’s biggest projects,” he said “There’s a lot of excitement around it, and it’s doing well. We just need to finish it up.”

Not everyone is a fan of the development. Councilor Bruce Baker, who is running for reelection next month, said the city has wasted money on the project.

“Much of the new downtown sits empty, offering mundane plans, and failed ideas,” he said in a recent candidate Q&A. “The major commercial land sales disappeared. Unthinkingly committed, the council has spent $4 million additional taxpayer dollars this year alone on projects at the new downtown.

“Today the new downtown is over $100 million dollars of lost taxpayers dollars, with little hope of meaningfully erasing that loss.”

Downtown’s history

The 105-acre site for Downtown Westminster, located on 88th Avenue west of Highway 36, was once home to the Westminster Mall, demolished in 2011.

In 2014, the city council voted to build the new downtown — a planned mix of residential, retail, offices and hotels. The city has since been working to develop the property, slowly converting it from the previously outdated, enclosed shopping mall into what developers describe as a walkable and vibrant mixed-use neighborhood.

To date, Downtown Westminster includes Alamo Drafthouse, a plaza, the Origin Hotel, and several apartments, among others. Four of the original mall tenants, including JC Penney, the Olive Garden restaurant, a bowling alley and dental offices, are still in business on the site.

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