CINDERELLA CITY MALL
South Santa Fe Drive / US 85 and West Hampden Avenue / US 285
Englewood, Colorado

Greater Denver's ninth shopping mall had a difficult beginning and was plagued by problems over most of its 30-year existence. The venue was originally envisaged, by Denver mall maven Gerri Von Frellick, as a "new concept', Victorian-style shopping center.

In August 1960, a building site south of the Denver City / County line (and near the city of Englewood) was selected. The wheeling and dealing that would be necessary in order to build the shopping center was put in motion.

Von Frellick's proposal met with friction from various political entities and citizen's groups, all steadfastly opposed to the project. 5 years of bitterly-fought litigation followed, which was finally resolved in July 1965.

By this time, an alternate location for the prospective mall had been agreed upon, which was 8.6 miles south of Colorado's Capitol and 1.3 miles west of the aforementioned site. The newly-selected, 55 acre tract had been a landfill and was presently serving as the Englewood City Park. Von Frellick had purchased the property in May of 1964.

Ground was broken for the "NEW ENGLEWOOD SHOPPING CENTER" in March 1966. The fully-enclosed, Mid-Century Modern complex was designed by its developer, with additional work by James H. Johnson and other architects.

It was to be built in an M-shaped configuration, with its four counterparts being the "Gold Mall", "Rose Mall", "Shamrock Mall" and "Cinder Alley". These converged on a 2-level, center atrium area, or "Blue Mall". A 20-foot-high fountain graced this 73,000 square foot court, which was ringed by a 120,000 square foot office mezzanine.

The first phase of the 2-level, 1,350,000 square foot shopping center, now known as CINDERELLA CITY ENGLEWOOD, featured one hundred and seven inline stores. It was dedicated March 2, 1968. The auspicious event, hailed as an "Alice In Wonderland come true", was attended by a crowd of over three thousand.

A second grand opening gala, held on July 25, 1968, heralded the opening of an additional thirty-five stores, for a grand total of one hundred and forty-two. The 50 million dollar CINDERELLA CITY was anchored by a 2-level (108,200 square foot), Denver-based Joslins, 3-level (151,000 square foot) Denver Dry Goods, 3-level (151,000 square foot) J.C. Penney and 2-level (51,800 square foot), Denver-based Neusteters.

Charter inline stores included Gano-Downs apparel, McDonald Fashions, Stuarts Ready-To-Wear For Ladies, Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, Flagg Brothers Shoes, GNC, Radio Shack, Randall's Formal Wear, Waldenbooks and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10.

The General Cinema Corporation Cinderella City Cinema showed its first feature in 1968. The movie house was located at the mall's west end. It was twinned in the early 1970s and shuttered in 1979.

A routine inspection in December 1972 had revealed structural problems with the 2-level parking garage and J.C. Penney anchor store. It was possible that the ground beneath the mall, previously a landfill, had shifted, causing cracks in the concrete supporting the parking deck and retail buildings above. Problem areas were braced with steel scaffolding and shoring sets, and the structural problems were not disclosed to the public.

The mall's original cinema was joined by a nearby drive-in venue in 1973. The Cinderella Twin Drive-in Theatre was located .25 of a mile west of CINDERELLA CITY, in the city of Sheridan.

Prime competitors of CINDERELLA CITY were SOUTHGLENN MALL (1974) {4.4 miles southeast, in Arapahoe County} and SOUTHWEST PLAZA (1982) {5.7 miles southwest, in Jefferson County}.

A 23 million dollar renovation of CINDERELLA CITY began in 1983 and was completed in 1986. During this project, the Center Court ("Blue Mall") was altered. Its fountain was removed and columns given new surfaces. A Food Court was also installed in part of the lower level parking garage, which connected into the "Shamrock Mall" and "Cinder Alley".

Moreover, a shuttered Neusteters and twin cinema were torn down. These were replaced by a 3-level (127,000 square foot), Phoenix-based Broadway Southwest. The store, completed in 1985, was rebranded, as a Denver-based May D & F, in 1987 and Houston-based Foley's in 1993.

In the interim, Denver Dry Goods ("The Denver") had closed in April 1987. It re-opened as a Montgomery Ward late in the year. Unfortunately, the renovation and new anchor stores did not rejuvenate the mall, which, by the early 1990s, was starting to decline.

A third commercial competitor had also appeared on the scene. An enclosed mall at CHERRY CREEK CENTER {4.6 miles northeast, in Denver} was officially dedicated in August 1990.

The worsening structural problems at CINDERELLA CITY did not help the situation. Its anchor stores began closing. The first was Foley's, in January 1994, then J.C. Penney, in May of the same year. Joslins bailed out early in 1995. Ward's became the final tenant to shut its doors, in December 1997.

On August 18, 1998, former Englewood mayor, Elmer Schwab (who had presided at the mall's grand opening 30 years before) was joined by a small group of onlookers as a wrecking ball began demolishing the shopping center.

A portion of a parking structure and the Foley's store were worked into a new mixed-use project. Known as CITYCENTER ENGLEWOOD, it was a joint venture between the City Of Englewood, Denver-based Miller Development, Trammel Crow Residential and Houston-based Weingarten Realty Investors. CITYCENTER was officially dedicated in June of 2000.

When fully completed, the power plaza encompassed 300,000 square feet of retail. Stores included a (22,800 square foot) Office Depot, (12,600 square foot) Petco and (30,100 square foot) Ross Dress For Less.

A 1-level (134,900 square foot) Wal-Mart opened for business September 20, 2000. There were also 300,000 square feet of offices, four hundred and fifty apartment units and a Civic Center and Library complex (in the old Foley's).

In July of the year 2000, the shopping facility had become accessible via light rail transit. At this time, revenue service commenced on Denver's 8.7 route mile "Southwest Corridor" LRT extension.


The Credit Where Due Department:

A million thanks go out to MallHistory webmaster Joshua Goldstein , and the Englewood, Colorado Public Library, who supplied just about all of the source material for this article. Without this assistance, said article would not have been possible.

Sources:

www.mallhistorycom / Joshua Goldstein, webmaster
Cinderella City comment post by Paul
"Romanceme", a Colorado native "Cinderella City Mall/ Englewood City Center" / By Kurt P. Schweigert
http://www.englewoodgov.org
http://www.rtd-denver.com
www.cinematreasures.org


FAIR USE OF CINDERELLA CITY IMAGES:

The photos from the City of Englewood / Englewood Public Library illustrate a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The images are of lower resolution than the originals (copies made would be of inferior quality). The images are not replaceable with a free-use or public-domain images. The use of the images does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute them in any way. The images are being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and their use is not believed to detract from the original images in any way.