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, as a "new concept', Victorian-style shopping center, by Denver mall maven Gerri Von Frellick.

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, eventually being 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 a city park. Ground was broken for the "NEW ENGLEWOOD SHOPPING CENTER" in March 1966.

The fully-enclosed, Mid-Century Modern-style complex was designed by its developer, with additional work by James H. Johnson and other architects. It was built in an M-shaped configuration, with its four counterparts being the "Gold Mall", "Rose Mall", "Shamrock Mall" and "Cinder Alley". These converged upon a 2-level, center atrium area, or "Blue Mall". A dramatic, 20 foot fountain graced this 73,000 square foot court, which was ringed by a 120,000 square foot, professional office mezzanine.

The first phase of the 2-level, 1,350,000 square foot shopping center, now known as CINDERELLA CITY MALL, 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, 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, 2-level (111,400 square foot) Denver Dry Goods, 2-level (51,800 square foot), Denver-based Neusteters and 2-level (120,200 square foot) J.C. Penney.

There were also McDonald Fashions, Stuarts Ready-To-Wear For Ladies, Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, Flagg Brothers Shoes, General Nutrition Center, Radio Shack, Randall's Formal Wear, Waldenbooks and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. The single-screen, 600 seat, 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 of the site, 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 Centennial} 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 Cinema -on the west end- 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, the old Denver Dry Goods, in the center of the mall, had closed in early 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 encountering more and more vacant retail spaces. 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. Joslins bailed out early in 1995. Ward's became the final tenant to shut its door, 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 the parking structure and Broadway Southwest / May D & F / 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.

The CITYCENTER was officially dedicated in June of 2000. It eventually encompassed 300,000 square feet of retail, including Office Depot, Petco, Ross Dress For Less, Gart Sports and various restaurants. There were also 300,000 square feet of offices, four hundred and fifty apartment units and a Civic Center / Library complex, in the old Foley's. A 1-level (134,900 square foot) Wal-Mart opened for business on September 20, 2000.

In July 2000, the complex had become light rail transit-accessible, when revenue service began on Denver's 8.7 route mile, I-25 / Broadway-to-Mineral Avenue / Littleton 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