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It’s going to be a busy summer at the Colorado Mills Mall, but not when it comes to customers and shopping.
The mall was closed and evacuated during the hail storm that hit the west metro area on May 8, and has remained closed ever since. And now it looks like the mall won’t reopen until the fall.
On May 19, Mills owner Simon Property Group released a statement saying, “We are currently unable to estimate when the entire mall will reopen for business to the public but believe it will be in time for this year’s holiday shopping season.”
Individual tenants with exterior entrances like Super Target and the UA Colorado Mills Stadium 16 theater are already open, and others with exterior entrances will open when they can.
The mall closure will cost the city about $300,000 to $350,000 a month in taxes, said Larry Dorr, Lakewood’s finance director. If the Mills remains closed until November, that would total about $2 million.
“The city has healthy reserve funds, so our core services are safe and in place,” he said. “It’s still early, so we’ll see how the situation progresses, but as of now, it’s business as usual.”
According to the statement by Simon, no employees or customers were injured during the storm, but it did create openings in the roof, which allowed water to get into the mall.
“It looks like a war zone inside the mall,” said Geoff Cleveland, owner of Cleveland Creek, a home-built wood furniture and rustic décor store to the mall. “Even six days after the storm, there was still water and stuff coming through the roof. And the subsequent storms we’ve had won’t help things.”
Simon Property says it began remediation and restoration efforts almost immediately, and is working with insurers and others to ensure Mills reopens as soon as possible. Water vacuum trucks were seen snaking lines into the mall the day after the storm, even as the skies continued to drizzle.
But in the meantime, businesses, especially the estimated 30 that are locally owned, and about 3,000 employees, are left struggling to recover their merchandise, and find a way to stay open until the mall can reopen.
“At this time, we’re focusing our efforts on clean up and restoration,” wrote Mailie Medina, owner of Kataluma Chai, which is located in the mall, in an email interview. “We are grateful to be a part of the Lakewood community and hope that we can get back to serving our customers as quickly as possible. We plan to stay in the Colorado Mills Mall and reopen when the shopping center is ready.”
Cleveland said about 60 percent of his shop’s inventory was destroyed, which is particularly painful because all the furniture is made by Cleveland (with the help of his wife and children) from standing dead aspen, juniper and pine, and reclaimed wood.
“We’re scrambling to get everything out of there that we could save,” he said. “Every place was badly hit, but nobody had any idea how bad until we were finally able to get back inside.”
Cleveland said he would like to reopen in the mall once repairs are complete, but in the meantime he’s looking at setting up at the Flatirons Crossing in Broomfield, or the Southwest Plaza mall in Littleton.
“If the mall reopens around the holidays, I probably wouldn’t be able to move back to the Mills until the holidays are over,” he said. “That would be too busy a time to move locations.”
Simon Property, and many of the individual businesses, will be posting updates on their Facebook pages about the reopening process. Aside from the official statement released on May 19, the company hasn’t responded to press inquires, and has denied media access to the mall’s interior.
During the May 15 Lakewood City Council study session, Kathy Hodgson, Lakewood’s city manager, said the city is providing any help necessary to the mall, and staff will be kept in the loop on progress.
“Thoughts and prayers for those folks at the mall, especially the small tenants, who have invested their life savings for the inventory and those small businesses,” she said. “We just hope they can get this up and running soon.”
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