With a 2005 estimated population of 520,000 people sitting at over 6,000 feet above sea level, metro Colorado Springs is a bustling economy. Mainly known for Pike’s Peak, the Red Rocks area, and numerous military installations, the city grew over 30 percent in the 1990s. Much of this growth was sprawl, in the way of strip malls, apartment complexes, and housing subdivisions as far as the eye can see. Two malls dominate Colorado Springs, and both are mid-tier in terms of the type of stores. You won’t find a Nordstrom or too many expensive boutique offerings in Colorado Springs because people drive about an hour or so north to the Denver area for that. The two major malls in Colorado Springs are The Citadel, located just east of downtown along Academy Blvd, and Chapel Hills Mall, located north of downtown near I-25 and Academy Blvd.
Opening in 1982, Chapel Hills Mall is a two-level, super-regional enclosed mall located on the north side of Colorado Springs along Academy Boulevard just south of I-25. It is currently approximately 1.2 million square feet and has the capacity for 154 retail stores. Chapel Hills Mall is currently anchored by K-Mart, JCPenney, Sears, and Macy’s. For those of you who are counting, there are 5,754 parking spaces at Chapel Hills Mall. I counted them all. Just kidding, it was listed on the mall’s leasing website.
Chapel Hills Mall is owned and operated by General Growth Properties of Chicago, who built the mall in 1982. Over the years the mall has gone through two major renovations, in 1985 and 1998. The latter renovation was the most extensive, and it brought with it a large ice-skating rink which was very popular. However, Dick’s Sporting Goods began negotiations with General Growth in 2005 to open a store within the mall in the very same space which the ice-skating rink occupies, so away went the ice-skating rink in June 2006. The renovation in 1998 also brought a climbing wall, Borders Books, and a 15-screen theatre.
Other changes have been afoot at Chapel Hills Mall in terms of the anchor stores. In 2005, Mervyns was sold by Target Corp. and became its own independent parent company called Mervyns LLC. Due to a slump in sales, Mervyns LLC decided to lay off over 4,000 employees and close over 60 underperforming stores, focusing on western and southwestern markets. Unfortunately, this included most of the stores in Colorado, and the Chapel Hills store closed in January 2006. In addition to the Mervyns change, Foley’s became Macy’s in September 2006 when Macy’s created their national brand and converted all the May properties they bought to the Macy’s nameplate.
I visited Chapel Hills Mall for the first and only time in January 2005 and took the pictures featured here. Mervyn’s and Foley’s were still at the mall, as was the ice rink. So, there has been significant change in just under two years. However, the mall is still a super-regional draw and competes with Citadel Mall (and also to a lesser degree with Denver) for the Colorado Springs shopping dollar.