For me, the Foothills Fashion Mall, long the largest and most popular shopping center in the region, peaked 10 years ago when the animatronic dinosaurs set up for a week. I think it was October, and every family in town went. Some of us made 5 or 6 trips.
I can’t do that now. The dinosaurs are long gone. So are half the stores. And, my son is living by a strict code for teenagers that forbids him to go shopping with his mom.
Some people say the mall is dead. Our own FC government says it is a “menace to public health, safety, and welfare (pdf).” But there are still some lights on.
The unpopulated picture above looks toward Sears, on a Thursday afternoon. The last of the open stores rally around it.
Thing is, the appliance guys down there are hungry. I mean famished. And besides, they don’t carry my Levi’s 515s anymore. Mind if we go the other way?
This is the fountain. The centerpiece of your mall experience. See those half walls? Those went up in the 1990s when a parent complained in the newspaper that any kid could walk right in and drown like a penny. That was an issue back when we used to exercise our toddlers along these halls in Winter.
This was Pennys. Now it’s GlowGolf, harbinger of Dollar Stores. In the foreground, steps to a stage area where school children delivered many a recital.
This sign appears throughout the mall. It’s part of Marketing’s “We Give Up” campaign.
Still, you have to credit someone for the Mervyn’s Puppet Theater vision.
Candy Barn ….
All right, all right. I’m sorry. The people who keep the mall are working against horrible odds. Only two years ago, hope remained that the mall would see expansion and renewal. For a while, it even seemed Fort Collins would get an escalator!
But then the parent company (General Growth Properties) filed bankruptcy, more businesses fled or failed, and it’s anybody’s guess what happens next.
In those circumstances, our crippled mall remains remarkably clean, safe, and well lit. Clearly, somebody’s still trying.
Someone should document the history of the Foothills Mall. The Everitt family developed it and owned it for a number of years. Bob Everitt has done a lot for Ft. Collins, it’s sad to see his creation fall into such disrepair. The Everitts sold out long before the downturn.
I’m surprised to say that I’ll miss it too. There’s a social component to an indoor mall, especially in Winter, that we won’t get from the big outdoor strip malls.
As for history, it’s pretty well documented in the two links I gave in my story.
“the mall is dead” talks about how the mall killed downtown and the University Mall, and how the city’s approval of off-College Avenue retail killed the mall.
“A menace to health, safety, and welfare,” is the city’s 2007 report declaring the mall blighted and setting up tax breaks for it’s renewal. It includes brief history of the establishment of the mall and the Everitt’s family participation.
I’d also like to add a really good article here about why our Mervyn’s anchor failed. It wasn’t slow business:
I just visited town, for the first time in five years. Sorry to see the malls floundering, remembering what a wonderland the “University Plaza” was when it opened up, complete with a ventriloquist who also swallowed fire in a half-finished storefront for the opening festivities. Maybe it’s just as well I didn’t go visit the FFM in its present decrepitude, snapping half a card worth of pix while boring my companions with tales of how I stood on this spot and did this thing (acted out a scene from “Ten Little Indians” for a live broadcast over KCOL once).
I kind of knew you were coming to visit and I meant to write to see if you wanted to meet. Sounds like I missed you.
Among my list of stories to do, I think I just added the role that KCOL used to play here. From everything I hear, they were central to the community back in the day.
This is from a piano show on KCOL in 1949, for example. It was a big enough deal to use to sell local music books …. http://www.flickr.com/photos/lostfortcollins/3607573916/sizes/l/
A lot of the malls across the country are being redeveloped into urban centers. I don’t disagree with you on the social environments, particularly in winter. Personally I find them to be boring, maybe if I was more of a shopper. It is curious to note that malls killed downtowns, now new urban centers, and the resurgence of downtowns are killing malls. Here is an article about a new mall redevelopment in Virginia.
i’m not really much of a mall person, but we were definitely there when the dinos were! the kids still talk about that. (i’m guessing it was either the fall of 2001 or the spring of 2002. we didn’t move here till august 2001.)
the kids have had their artwork displayed there a couple of years in a row and the mall is so much not a part of how i think that we’ve forgotten to go see the artwork both times. :-\ (boy did i get reamed out for that this last time.)
but we get most of our appliances from sears. that’s generally the only time i go to the mall, to shop at sears.
Working for a small public relations company when the mall was born, I remember watching our artist draw the original logo for the FFM. My wife worked as a secretary for the Everitt family that developed the mall. They were great people to know and to work for.
I love history….
moved here in ’74..
seems we went to everitt’s lumber that year..
(prospect by the rr tracks)
I remember part of that drive on a gravel road..
has memory failed me ??
I miss the University Mall (now Petco area) I loved that place they had a GOOD arcade & the movie theater… good times!
Ah, the FFM during Christmas in the 80s – wow. How busy, how humming. I spent many many days in the old video arcade (now the children’s playspace) opposite Orange Julius – it saddens me to see FFM such a wasteland. It has the stench of death now – it’s like the old Century Mall during its final days, to a factor of ten. It should be leveled and rebuilt along the lines of Providence Place, in Providence RI.
I remember when it was a single strip that ended at Sears, no food court, Mervyns, etc.
Our trip usually involved flirting with the Orange Julius girls and perusing the new release cassette tapes @ Hastings right next to Sears (where Radio Shack is now). Good times.
Where do parents drop their kids off for hours on end these days where they will be sudo supervised?