Southglenn Mall; Centennial, Colorado

Southglenn Mall Foley's in Centennial, CO

Centennial, Colorado is a suburb of Denver located south of downtown roughly along Interstate 25.  With just over 100,000 residents, Centennial is one of the largest cities in Colorado and has a relatively recent history as a city, being incorporated in 2001. It is surrounded by other large suburbs in an area of urban sprawl stretching to the south of Denver, such as Littleton and Englewood, and more recently spilling into Douglas County and former Ranch country.

Southglenn Mall, opened in 1974, was a large, two-story enclosed mall in Centennial located along University Blvd near Arapahoe. It was developed by Jordan Perlmutter, the same company which built Northglenn Mall and also nearby competitor Southwest Plaza in Littleton. The anchors when the mall opened were Sears, May D&F, and Denver Dry Goods. In 1987, Denver Dry Goods was sold to JCPenney and the following year in 1988 the mall was renovated. Then, in 1993, May D&F became Texas-based Foley’s, and in 1994 Joslin’s built a large flagship anchor on the east side of the mall.

Southglenn Mall in Centennial, COUnfortunately, the middle of the 1990s were the apex of success for Southglenn, as intense competition mounted nearby. In 1996, Park Meadows Mall opened about 5 miles away in nearby Lone Tree. Park Meadows immediately established itself as a destination mall for the entire Denver area, not only drawing from a larger base than Southglenn but also positioning itself at the busy freeway junction of I-25 and CO 470. Park Meadows started draining stores away from Southglenn, at first slowly, but soon the exodus picked up an alarming pace. Then, in 1998, another blow hit Southglenn as the Joslins flagship became less important as the Joslins chain was absorbed into Dillards. In 1999, the mall was sold, and the JCPenney became a Home Store, only to close entirely in 2002. In 2001 some minor last-ditch efforts were made to renovate the center, but they were too little and too late. All this time Park Meadows had been dominant in south Denver and meanwhile Southwest Plaza in nearby Littleton had held its ground over there, increasing the number of top-tier mall stores. Finally, by 2005, Southglenn’s owners and the City of Centennial announced the ever-popular lifestyle center conversion, ending the mall’s over three-decade run. And finally, in 2006, Foley’s became Macy’s.

The new mall will be called Streets at Southglenn, and demolition began on the old mall in 2006. Nearly complete in 2007, the master development plan indicates a faux-old-tyme “Main Street” type decor Southglenn Mall in Centennial, COwith outdoor greenspace and almost 1 million square feet of retail, combined with residences and 100,000 square feet of office space. If the pictures indicate what will actually take place as a result of construction, the new center should actually be somewhat impressive and more useful to the nearby citizens than the rather crusty old mall structure which was there. At any rate, this one’s another one which has gone into the retail history books (read: our website) for archival preservation.

We visited Southglenn in January 2005 and took the pictures featured here. For some neat demolition photos and a liveblog of what’s going on with the site, go to the redevelopment website. From memory, I can recall the most interesting feature of the mall was the second level which sort of randomly appeared in the middle of the mall, which was pretty much a straight shot between anchors. If you have anything to add, feel free to pipe up in the comments section.

Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO

Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO

Southglenn Mall Vintage Abercrombie in Centennial, CO Southglenn Mall Vintage Abercrombie in Centennial, CO Southglenn Mall Vintage Abercrombie in Centennial, CO

Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO

Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO Southglenn Mall in Centennial, CO

28 Responses to “Southglenn Mall; Centennial, Colorado”

  1. The perfectly preserved mid-’90s Abercrombe & Fitch was the highlight of this mall for me.

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  2. I like the palm trees–a very retro touch. But the loss of a brutalist 1970s mall that otherwise looks like a generic brutalist, 70s mall with a 90s renovation is no great loss. The Denver area has had a number of dead malls and it’s lead the way in the creative reuse of the properties.

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  3. Looks terrible, no charm whatsoever. Doesn’t seem so crash-and-burn as Cinderella City, anyways.

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  4. I never seen a Abercrombie&Fitch storefront like that before, looks pretty neat. Though I prefer the current modern ones they have today.

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  5. These Abercrombies actually had character and represented the “roots” of the store, when the store was known for rugged outdoorsy goods and before they became a popular brand for teens to wear. Their newer stores which blast their dance-y pop music and reek of their various colognes definitely appeal to their latent popularity toward the teenage brand-whore demographic, but they look nice I guess?

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  6. I’m fortunate enough to have visited the “real” A&F in New York around the time of its bankruptcy. A completely different vibe than the 90s stores which just struck me as “odd” when they were first rolled out: Eddie Bauer trying to be Ralph Lauren, while being a little more prole than “J Crew”. It’ll be interesting to see how long the brand-whores keep it going. Anyone remember “Ocean Pacific”, how long did that last?

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  7. The Denver Dry store itself might have been sold to JC Penney, but the chain later was sold to May/Foleys. Joslins’s later was sold to Dillard’s.

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  8. I must say that I miss the old Abercrombie and Fitch stores. Menlo Park Mall was the last Abercrombie to change over…as of 2005, all the retro Abercrombies were phased out. The modern Abercrombie and Fitch stores do not have the same atmosphere and frankly, Ruehl, Hollister, JCrew and the newer American Eagle stores do a much better job at atmosphere.

    In my experience with the CO malls, they are quite different from those in the East, (with the exception of Cherry Creek which was built in the same mold of most of the Taubman designed malls) mostly due to design and theming. For example, the Park Meadows Mall is themed to look like a ski lodge…at each end of the mall and in the food court, there is a two level fireplace, stone floors, a waterfall/mountain scene in center court, stone floors and wood paneling thoughout. On a cold day, eventhough it’s large, the mall is quite cozy. The plans for the new lifestyle expansion look to continue the theme.

    Flatiron Crossing, between Boulder and Denver along US 29, continues along the Colorado outdoor theme with stone floors, lots of natural light and a Western design. Flatiron is one of the first malls to also contain the outdoor lifestyle center, complete with a bookstore, restaurants, movie theater and continuing along the CO theme…waterfalls, stone walks, etc…if only most malls can recreate their lifestyle center.

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  9. I’m trying to recall when Abercrombie & Fitch was having troubles. Their first stores in Wisconsin were at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa (late 1994/spring 1995 opening…..this was the first store I saw), and Fox River Mall in Appleton, respectively (late 1995/early 1996 opening).

    I think by then they were already out of bankruptcy and onto their ‘current’ format. Their store designs never were consistant here. Well, now they are since they’ve all be updated to reflect their current prototype, but back in the 1990s when they were just entering this state, they had no less than 3 different store prototypes going. The Fox River store had the wood theme like that of the store in these images.

    Then again, I could be wrong. Maybe the reason for the different prototypes that existed in my state was ‘because’ it was during their troubled times when they were trying to find that niche and store appearance where they’d become the chain we know them as now.

    The mid 1990s were very turbulant times for the apparel retail industry, especially in the ‘trendy’ category.

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  10. That’s when the bankruptcies were, anyway.

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  11. “The modern Abercrombie and Fitch stores do not have the same atmosphere and frankly, Ruehl, Hollister, JCrew and the newer American Eagle stores do a much better job at atmosphere.”

    While I like the AF store format of today, I agree that the other stores you listed do it better. Especially Hollister; I love the dark decor and the pumping techno music. :D Funny that AF were more outdoors type, I could never tell by their current line-up of clothes today…

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  12. Ahh, so I guessed correct. Figured as much.

    I forgot how many chains went kaput between 1994-1997, but it was quite a few banners, that’s for sure, all vanishing into that big mall in the clouds.

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  13. Abercrombie & Fitch was well out of bankruptcy in the ’90s. They were just experimenting with store design. the first modern era ones I saw were really dark and rustic. the one at Southglenn was the slightly softer approcach, with similar interior cues to the first version. The next version after that is the one that we know today.

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  14. “All vanishing into that big mall in the clouds.”

    That’s where Wards, Ames, and Service Merchandise are anchors. Among others.

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  15. How sad! This looked like a perfectly viable and attractive mall! Now the area residents will be subject to another “blah blah at blah blah” mixed-use development with the same stores the rest of North America has (Best Buy, Old Navy, and so on). All without a roof in Colorado winters. What are they thinking? Looks great on paper (in spring), but with 2 feet of snow in December, I’d bet people would wish for climate-controlled modern comfort.
    Scott

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  16. Apprently, the lifestyle craze has caught on in Colorado and they are not deterred by the weather. Below are the new and successful lifestyle centers that I know of in CO:

    - Aspen Grove , Littleton, CO: A lot of usual stores to frequent a lifestyle center including Apple, Panera, Sharper Image, JCrew, Gap, Banana Republic, to name a few.

    - 29th Street , Boulder: New Lifestyle Center built on a former mall…this was being built last time I was in the area and it looks really cool…this will be the 2nd major outdoor shopping district in Boulder (Pearl St Mall being the 1st)

    - Northfield Stapleton , Denver: Built on the former Stapleton International Airport…also looks pretty cool.

    - The Village at Flatiron Crossing, Broomfield, CO: The outdoor section of the Flatiron Crossing Mall…I was very impressed with this when I visited and like how it continues with the Colorado outdoor theming of the mall and surrounding area (this mall has nature trails adjoining it with the area). If all malls can build adjoining lifestyle centers like this, the lifestyle center will not be a fad that will die out.

    - The Park Meadows Lifestyle District , Lone Tree: I’ve seen the plans for this and it looks like it will be a success, also continuing with the theme of the mall and the natural setting of Colorado…don’t know what stores are going to be there yet.

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  17. Re: upthread. If this was still a viable mall, it would be a boring, but viable mall withy plam trees and ugly architecture instead of a boring mixed use complex. By design, mixed use complexes are likely to have longer and more useful lives than a mall.

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  18. Speaking of Cindy City, this is where MallHistory’s Josh Goldstein works as per his Wiki userpage.

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  19. Wow, I practically lived here during high school. It did *not* look like this when I was there. The renovation had yet to happen. Good times.

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  20. I live in the general area; and rumor has it that back in the mall’s early days, a woman was abducted from here, with the prime suspect being Henry Lee Lucas. Any truth to that?

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  21. They took the mall down and are turning it into something like the bellmar out in lakewood i cant wait to see the streets of southglenn

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  22. i loved this mall you always ran into somebody you knew and could smoke weed anywhere

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  23. My family moved to a neighborhood about 1 mile away in 1974, just when Southglenn opened. I spent so many afternoons, summer days, etc. walking there with my friends. I moved away before the renovations, but still consider Southglenn Mall to be one of my favorite places as a kid and teen. I know bigger, better malls came, but this was the place to be in the 70′s and 80′s.

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  24. This mall was great. I started going there with my friends back in 75′, So many good memories. The upstais section was made to look like a medeival village them with Zeesoes Magic Shop and an awesome game store. The game room called The Nautalus was the palce to be as a teeanger. One of the 1st Orange Julious was there. Christmas was such a great time to be at this mall. The music store which sold instrumnets was the 1st place I ever took drum lessons.

    All the new malls aorund here have no soul/flavor and do not feel like Colorado at all, the people, the stores, very very sad.

    Park Meadows mall opening was the thing that killed this mall. Yes it needed some TLC but it was home and always a great place to be.

    RIP Southgleen Mall and Cinderella City Mall.

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  25. Follow-up.

    I like what they did with Southglenn Mall. I did not think I would approve.

    Whole Foods Market
    Petes Coffe
    Winter skating rink…..lots of neat places to go.

    But, I miss my mall. When I walk around the orginal Sears or Macys and dont look at the old areas where the mall access points would be…I home in my favorite mall of all time….Southglenn….

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  26. Other than Sears, Macy’s and Big Box Row in the back of the plaza, there isn’t much retail here. Bars and restaurants seem to be the dominate business. Lots of residential condos are still for sale too

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  27. My memories of Southglenn go back to the summer of 76 through the early months of 85 when my family moved away. All the above pictures look very foreign to me. I remember the Nautilus arcade, Toys by Roy and Burger King. Just up the mall from those three was the Orange Julius. Further down was Walgreens on the right and Dave Cook sporting goods across the hall. Too many more shops to mention. I spent so much time there, I practically lived there during the summer.

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  28. GOD DAMMIT i miss that mall…
    Southglenn Mall was a masterpiece of mankind- what it looked like on the inside was such a unique trace… its pure 90′s aether.

    and to any kid old enough to have ran down that mall, panting that aether inside, the streets of southglenn will always be ugly to you.
    Your terrible, charmless building, with its skylights beaming down… It was so a meaningful to some us… we had nothing.

    Fuck you streets of southglenn! fuck what you look like on the inside and out for what you are… you tear it down.
    you ruined the trace just so fat rich things could play europe in their mercedes with the goldandfats poopyblondes.

    The cherished memories of children will lie in your streets. will they too be made into void?

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