H&M, the hip and trendy Swedish-based clothier with a worldwide following, will open its first Colorado Springs store at Chapel Hills Mall on the city's north side.
Mall management declined to comment and a New York spokeswoman for H&M couldn't be reached.
However, an architectural firm that's working for Chapel Hills told The Gazette on Thursday that H&M will occupy space at the mall; Pikes Peak Regional Building Department records show a section of the mall is being gutted to accommodate a single, 21,904-square-foot store, which is not named in the records.
Four retail spaces in the center of the mall's upper level - now occupied by American Eagle Outfitters, Helzberg Diamonds, The Gap and Academy of Life and Leadership Taekwondo - are being remodeled for the new user, according to Regional Building records. The store is expected to open later this year.
"It's H&M," Andy Olree, a principal at the Design Edge, an architectural firm with offices in Denver and the Springs, said when asked the identity of the new retailer.
In addition, employees for American Eagle and Helzberg Diamonds are telling passers-by that they've been informed H&M is taking the space they're vacating. Those stores, along with The Gap and Academy of Life and Leadership Taekwondo, are expected to move elsewhere in the mall.
H&M, which is short for Hennes & Mauritz, "designs cheap, yet chic clothing, mainly for men and women ages 18 to 45, children's apparel, and its own brands of cosmetics," according to business publication Dun & Bradstreet. The global retailer announced May 13 that it would open a 23,000-square-foot store this fall at the Colorado Mills mall in Lakewood. That store would be H&M's fifth in the Denver area.
H&M opened its first U.S. store 13 years ago on Fifth Avenue in New York. The company operates nearly 2,500 stores in 35 countries, along with online shopping, Dun & Bradstreet says.
"The U.S. has been one of the retailer's most important markets," H&M said in a news release announcing the Colorado Mills store. "With its emphasis on expansion, H&M continually seeks out the best properties and locations for its customers. H&M now offers U.S. consumers access to quality fashions at the best prices through 268 locations across the country."
H&M opened its first women's clothing store in 1947 as Hennes (Swedish for "hers"); it later bought the hunting and men's clothing store Mauritz Widforss, according to Dun & Bradstreet.
H&M's location at Chapel Hills, northeast of Academy and Briargate boulevards, would be a big plus for the mall, which is adding stores and restaurants and making major upgrades in order to compete with newer shopping centers such as the Promenade Shops at Briargate, the planned Copper Ridge at Northgate and First & Main Town Center on the Springs' north and northeast sides.
Chapel Hills is owned by New York-based Garrison Investment Group, which partnered with another firm to buy the 1.2 million-square-foot mall for $71.5 million in 2011. Garrison now is the mall's sole owner.
Among improvements at Chapel Hills, Carmike Cinemas is building a 13-screen, more than 2,800-seat theater complex that's scheduled to open in the fall. The complex will be the first in Colorado to include the company's "BIGD" auditorium, which includes a 3-1/2-story, wall-to-wall screen.
Carmike 13 will replace a 15-screen facility that the theater chain razed, along with an old Kmart store, to make room for the new complex.
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