Park Meadows mall could soon reopen its corridors, and some interior stores, if its request to reopen is approved by the state.
The request would affect stores with no exterior means of public access and whose entrances face the Lone Tree mall’s enclosed corridors.
The Tri-County Health Department wrote in a May 5 letter that the department felt “confident that the measures put in place provided the protection needed for the public and employees” once the Lone Tree mall reopens.
Signed by Deputy Director Jennifer Ludwig, the letter states Park Meadows’ actions could be a model for other indoor malls to reopen their doors.
The decision to open with proper social distancing guidelines in place would be up to the invidual store owners.
“Park Meadows has worked over the past month with Tri-County Health to learn and address any health and safety concerns,” general manager Pam Kelly said. “The small-but-mighty team at Park Meadows has worked tirelessly to demonstrate everything that we, an enclosed mall, can do far above any other type of retail establishment. It is our desire to educate the state for all enclosed malls and as we worked on our plan we collaborated with many of the enclosed malls in the state.”
Douglas County commissioners submitted a variance request from state Executive Order 20-28, which prohibits indoor malls from reopening. The county’s application includes a letter from Lone Tree Mayor Jackie Millet and Ludwig, as well as a detailed explanation of the mall’s precautionary measures.
Mall staff have removed all soft seating, removed chairs from the dining hall, stepped up cleaning efforts, installed hand sanitizing stations throughout the mall, and put up additional signage about masks, social distancing and washing hands. Masks were required when shopping at the mall before Millet implemented a similar citywide order. Employees will provide guests with masks if they do not have one.
Dick’s Sporting Goods, one of the five exterior anchor stores, has provided curbside pickup since it has been allowed to partially reopen. The mall has been gradually implementing a system for smoother curbside pickups so interior stores can also have that option. Whitney Miller, director of the Park Meadows Business Improvement District, said curbside pickup for Park Meadows retailers could be a permanent offering going forward.
Millet stated in her letter that Park Meadows’ reopening is “an urgent matter for our economy and our individual livelihoods.” Retail stores contributed about $24 million in sales taxes to Lone Tree in 2018, 93% of the city’s sales tax revenue source. The mall is home to 190 stores.
Ludwig said that while minding public health orders is critical to slow the spread of COVID-19, economic recovery is also important.
“Though Park Meadows was unable to open as planned, we believe that their thoughtful planning will allow retailers within the mall to effectively protect the health and well-being of their employees and guests,” Ludwig stated. “With collaboration and perseverance, I believe we find a reasonable solution through education and demonstration of best practices.”
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