Retailers react to Chapel Hills Mall sale

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Some retailers are breathing a little easier after the recent purchase of Chapel Hills Mall.

“That period where we didn’t know who was going to buy us or if we were going to be bought, there were a lot of rumors going around that we might close,” said Monika Clayton, owner of American Vape and E-Cigs. “I was happy to see someone bought us and hope they run things differently.”

NKF Capital Markets announced the $33.5 million sale of Chapel Hills Mall, located at 1710 Briargate Blvd., in an April 5 news release.

“Measuring over 1.1 million square feet of gross leasable area, 562,733 square feet is included in the sale,” according to the release.The mall is home to a variety of national in-line tenants as well as a handful of locally owned stores such as Clayton’s.

“They refer to this hallway where we are located as the dead zone,” she said. “It’s mostly the smaller businesses over here that aren’t owned by giant corporations.”

Clayton believes changing people’s opinion of the shopping center and better maintenance are good initial goals for the mall’s new owners.

“Maintenance is a huge thing that could be done better,” she said. “There are constantly lights out and broken tiles throughout the entire building. With my store specifically, we’ve had a leak near our cash register that has been here since we opened in October 2015. The previous owners patched it several times and then said a plumber was coming, but that never happened.”

Clayton would like to see the new owners conduct more advertising for the mall as a whole.

“I’m not corporately owned, so a lot of times I am having to run promotions where I am only making about 10 percent profit,” she said. “I’m having to turn right around and give that to the mall.”

Clayton recalls hearing ads for The Citadel mall’s extended hours during the holidays but none for Chapel Hills.

She’s hopeful that will change this coming year as Mason Asset Management and Namdar Realty now own both of the city’s enclosed malls, with The Citadel as their first purchase at the end of 2015.

“Just anything to help get more traffic in the mall would be great,” Clayton said.

Meanwhile, Sarafina Dellacroce, a four-year employee at the Fast-Fix Jewelery and Watch Repairs kiosk, hopes the new owners add more events at the mall.

“It would be great to have some more events like the Easter one we just had and the Girl Scouts event because those really help bring in customers,” she said.

Clayton said an event targeting the city’s large military population also could be good for business.

“A lot of the events now are for families and small kids and those don’t really help increase my business,” she said. “We had a big boost of customers with The Home Show, so other adult-centered events also would be nice.”

U.S. retail sales in February were down 0.1 percent from January but still up 4.2 percent compared to the same time last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

However, Rachelle LaMay, owner of All Things Catholic, is confident about sales starting to trend upward, following the mall’s sale.

“We are a specialty store, which I think may be what succeeds in malls going forward,” she said. “That’s quite possibly where my optimism comes from.”

The mall was built in 1982 and renovated in both 1998 and 2013, when the theater was expanded.

Thomas Dobrowski and Riki Hashimoto, NKF Capital Markets executive managing directors, Director Katharine French and Associate Ed Leinss handled the mall’s sale.

“Chapel Hills Mall is a sound, value-add opportunity, offering the new owner steady in-place gross and net operating incomes from a unique mix of stable and predictable cash flow. This income will provide ample free cash flow to fund tenant and capital improvements as new tenants are introduced,” Dobrowski said in the release. “Further, Chapel Hills Mall offers significant value-add upside via the potential lease up of the former Gordmans anchor box, which was renovated in 2016, and 114,870 square feet of vacant in-line and major tenant space.”

The immediate trade area of Chapel Hills Mall reports a median household income of $102,511, “substantially higher than the median incomes of both the state of Colorado and [the] United States. This can be attributed to the area’s [high-paying] industries such as aerospace, defense, [health care] and information technology.”