The Sears store at the Chapel Hills Mall, which was closed by the financially troubled retailer in 2019 after a nearly 40-year run, will be razed starting next month by a real estate company that plans to develop a suburban-style apartment complex on the site.
The transformation marks another major change in Colorado Springs’ retail landscape, which in recent years has seen store closings, arrivals and the development of newer and trendier shopping centers.
Evergreen Devco, which has offices in Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, completed its purchase this month of the Sears property at Chapel Hills, northeast of Academy and Briargate boulevards on the Springs’ north side.
The company contracted to buy the Sears site last year and paid $5.7 million on May 13 for the two-story, 141,000-square-foot building, parking lots and 12.6 acres, El Paso County land records show.
The property was purchased from Northwood Investors, a global real estate investment and management firm with an office in Denver; land records show a Northwood limited liability company paid $12 million in 2018 for the Sears property.
Like Dillard’s, Macy’s and other mall anchors, the Sears property at Chapel Hills was owned separately; Namdar Realty Group of New York owns the mall’s interior areas.
Evergreen Devco expects to begin tearing down the Sears building June 15 or 16, said Robert Place, the company’s multifamily development director for Colorado. Demolition could take 30 to 45 days, he said.
The company then will begin construction on a 300-unit apartment complex to be called Outlook Briargate. Apartments will be spread across several buildings; amenities will include a clubhouse, fitness center, outdoor pool, shade structures and barbecue areas. The first units should be available to rent in 2022.
The apartments, a mix of one-, two- and three bedroom units, will rent at market rates; in the first quarter of this year, Colorado Springs rents averaged nearly $1,334 a month, according to a recent report by a University of Denver associate business professor and a Denver economic consulting firm.
Chapel Hills officials — whose shopping center competes with newer north-side developments such as the Promenade Shops at Briargate, Victory Ridge and InterQuest Marketplace — have said they welcome Evergreen Devco’s apartment complex, which will bring shoppers to the area and spur the addition of stores and restaurants.
Evergreen Devco, meanwhile, is bullish on Colorado Springs’ multifamily market, Place said. The company is one of several out-of-town developers that have built or plan apartment projects in the area and who say they’ve been attracted by the Springs’ population growth, strong economy and quality of life.
“We’ll see how we lease up,” Place said. “We’re pretty excited about that. We think we’re going to do real well there, obviously, We’re very excited to have that project nearing the point of construction.”
Outlook Briargate is one of several Evergreen Devco projects in Colorado Springs.
The company plans Outlook Centennial, a 312-unit apartment complex near Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street on the Springs’ northwest side.
Evergreen Devco also developed a King Soopers-anchored shopping center southeast of Marksheffel Road and Constitution Avenue in unincorporated Claremont Ranch on the Springs’ east edge that opened in 2017.
It’s also developing Falcon Marketplace, another King Soopers-anchored center northwest of Woodmen and Meridian roads in unincorporated Falcon, northeast of Colorado Springs.
The Sears store at Chapel Hills was built in 1981 and opened the following year along with the rest of the mall, whose debut at the time underscored the city’s residential and commercial growth to the north. Sears, however, has seen tough times over the last several years. Its aging stores have lost ground to newer retailers and to online competitors such as Amazon, which have benefited from consumers who prefer online buying to brick-and-mortar shopping.
Sears’ parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2018 and closed many of its stores. Colorado Springs’ two Sears locations, at Chapel Hills and the Broadmoor Towne Center on the south side, were shuttered in March 2019.
The Sears at Broadmoor Towne Center since has been sold and the building remodeled into multiple spaces, including a Magnum Shooting Center.
Sears isn’t the only brick-and-mortar retailer that’s faced tough times. Pier 1 Imports, Bed Bath & Beyond, Gordmans and Stein Mart are among retail chains that have closed locations in Colorado Springs in recent years.