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               TWIN PEAKS MALL: LONGMONT, CO

David Kruger's Commentary

User submitted February 28, 2012

Longmont's Twin Peaks Mall opened in 1985 on the corner of Hover Road and the Diagonal Highway, the southwestern fringe of Longmont at that time. Just twenty years before, Longmont was a farm and ranch trade center with a population of only 13,000, but it quickly grew in the 1970s and 1980s as an economical bedroom suburb for Boulder and Denver commuters, necessitating the need for a regional shopping mall.

Twin Peaks opened with Sears (north end), J.C.Penney (west end), and a Denver-based department store named Joslins. Twin Peaks also featured an expansive food court with an arcade (similar to General Growth malls), a large Country Buffet restaurant, and a United Artists multiplex movie theater between J.C.Penney and Sears. My first experience of Twin Peaks in 1991 was that of an extremely busy regional mall, filled as much with rural shoppers from area small towns and farms as Longmont residents. The entire mall corridors were crowded with people on the weekends, and the food court was pretty much “standing-room only”. In addition, the Country Buffet restaurant on the mall's west entrance was (and still is) a popular eating establishment for all-you-can-eat locals who aren't concerned about their waistlines.

When Walmart finally came to Longmont in 1990, they built and opened a store just north of the Sears parking lot, which added shoppers (and congestion) to Twin Peaks. The big coups for Twin Peaks Mall, though, was signing Dillards to build and open a new store as the mall's fourth major anchor. The Twin Peaks Dillards was constructed on the mall's east side, and provided an additional draw that led shoppers into the food court. In 1998, Dillards acquired Denver-based Joslins, the mall's other upscale anchor, and began to convert all Joslins locations to Dillards. Since Dillards had already opened a new store in Twin Peaks, they converted their older Joslins location into a Dillard's men and childrens store, leaving the newer Dillards location for womens apparel and accessories.

Twin Peaks Mall was still a decent place to shop as recently as 2005, though the last five years have marked its incredible decline. Initially, the mall's signing of Steve and Barry's as an anchor was not a move of desperation. Steve and Barry's opened a modern, clean store (as nice as any Old Navy location) between J.C.Penney and Sears, and the mall's occupancy was still good. However, in 2006, J.C.Penney decided to pull out of Twin Peaks Mall to occupy a recently closed (but modern) Shopko discount store across the street, joining newer freestanding “big box” stores like Target and Home Depot that lined the west side of Hover Road. The former Shopko buildings in both Longmont and nearby Fort Collins were completely remodeled into identical, freestanding J.C.Penney locations, while J.C.Penney's former locations became respective black holes for both Twin Peaks Mall and Foothills Mall. By 2007, slumping sales forced Dillards to consolidate their Twin Peaks locations into one building, closing the former Joslins location on the south side of the mall. When Steve and Barry's went bankrupt the next year, their closure along with J.C.Penney's vacancy created a large empty space between Sears and the center of the mall, quite visible along Hover Road.

My visit in 2011 revealed that the once-bustling food court is now down to about three restaurants (Orange Julius/Dairy Queen recently called it quits). The arcade is closed up, and the United Artists multiplex is negatively regarded as an outdated yet overly expensive theater; most locals go out of town for movies as far away as Loveland. Walmart has done their part to increase the blight around Twin Peaks by completely abandoning their location north of Sears for new supercenters on both North Main and Ken Pratt, leaving behind their former empty husk and parking lot between it and Sears. And just when it looked like things couldn't get worse, Sears announced in December 2011 that they will permanently close their department store at Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks Mall was developed by CBL as a sister mall to what has now become the much healthier and nicer Frontier Mall in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The two malls' anchors and histories are very similar, though they have gone in completely opposite directions. Visit both and you will see that Frontier Mall still has all of its anchors, including both Dillards, Sears, J.C.Penney, restaurants, and an upgraded and expanded theater complex. Olive Garden and Chipotle recently built new restaurants in the mall's parking lot. Even when bricks and mortar malls have declined, Frontier Mall is still the primary shopping destination for Cheyenne's region, and every big-box retailer with the exception of Home Depot is located around it. Everything good about Frontier Mall highlights everything bad about Twin Peaks Mall.

Twin Peaks went into foreclosure in 2011, and was finally sold to NewMark Merrill in February 2012. But what can NewMark do at this point, besides tear the everything but Dillards down and start over? Macy's is the only viable anchor outside of Dillards that is even in the realm of possibility for addition (since Sears and J.C.Penney have affirmatively left), but Macy's would clearly snub their noses at the mall's current condition and prospective spaces. The former Joslins location is grotesquely out of style (with big beige bricks and ugly rounded corners), and the former J.C.Penney, Steve and Barry's, and Sears locations are way too small for Macy's. It is sad when the lone bright spot for a once-busy regional mall is now the Country Buffet restaurant that was merely a footnote in the mall's prime, never mind the fact that Twin Peaks Mall is now worth less than some of the residential homes in Longmont.

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