It seems like you can recycle anything these days. Paper, plastic and cans are old standbys that have been joined by computers, your shoes, the …
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It seems like you can recycle anything these days. Paper,
plastic and cans are old standbys that have been joined by
computers, your shoes, the building materials in your home and
We need to remember that we can throw commercial real estate
into that category of recyclable goods.
We were reminded of it last weekend during the grand opening of
the Streets at Southglenn at the corner of Arapahoe and University
Aside from the word Southglenn on the signs greeting you as you
drive into this brand spanking new mix of retail and residential
property, there is virtually nothing left to remind you of the
Southglenn Mall that once lived on that corner. Even Sears and
Macy's, the only notable holdovers from the mall, feel new in their
The project has been on our radar for years. It was on paper at
the very beginning, Centennial eyed the project as a focal point
for the city. Time will tell if it lives up to that, but it sure
looks good right now. If nothing else, it’s a shining example of
what redevelopment can be if done right.
While redevelopment of that scale not a common occurrence, it's
not a new idea either.
Englewood's CityCenter made similarly good use of the old
Cinderella City mall. Walking past the library and other city
offices, it's hard to imagine that you're walking through what was
once a Foley's department store.
But we don't have to keep this redevelopment gun in its holster
until we eye another hulking shopping mall for the next
Driving through the South Metro area, you're likely to pass
strip malls that seem to be hanging on by a thread or left for dead
altogether. A few miles down the road, you may see a new
construction site that will house the sort of businesses meant for
the kind of aging development you just passed.
Why is that?
A lot of people ask that question. It's a land-use issue, one of
the toughest battles local government everywhere seem to deal with.
Just about every time someone proposes construction of a new
building on vacant land, there is someone opposed to the idea
asking, "Why build something new over there when you have perfectly
good land meant for that sort of thing right here?"
When you see something like Streets at Southglenn or CityCenter,
you have to admit that the people asking that question have a point
There are a number of factors that play into the decision to
build from scratch as opposed to redeveloping an existing site.
Chief among them is cost. Retrofits aren't cheap. Most of the time,
it just costs less to build from scratch.
But the answer shouldn't be that simple. Perhaps incentives
should come into play that take cost out of the equation. Finding
the answer is worth the effort because it's too bad more of the
area's showcase retail developments aren't redevelopments. It's too
bad that some retail centers are left withering on the vine a few
blocks from new ones.
As people explore Streets at Southglenn like they have
Englewood's CityCenter, hopefully they will come away with a new
appreciation for redevelopment and look for opportunities to make
it work elsewhere more often.
Jeremy Bangs is the managing editor of Colorado Community
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