Two years ago, REI employees would blush if you caught them in a Sports Authority.
These days, they feel right at home: The Seattle co-op unveiled plans this week to move into a second big box store vacated by Sports Authority following its bankruptcy last year. It paid $9.5 million on Tuesday for the 45,000-square-foot retail shell on Arapahoe Road at Interstate 25, according to Arapahoe County property records.
REI plans to relocate a store in Englewood to Greenwood Village this fall, the company said in a press release Tuesday. The seller of the Greenwood Village store is One Liberty Properties, a New York real estate investment trust. The company estimated that its gain from the sale is $6.5 million.
REI is no newcomer to Colorado real estate.
The company owns its Englewood store, too, purchasing the 25,000-square-foot building in the Centennial Promenade mall for $2.78 million in 1998, according to county records.
REI is also a property owner in Denver. It purchased its flagship store on Platte Street in 1998 for $3.9 million, city records show. The buy was part of a deal with the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, The Denver Post reported, where REI poured $30 million into redeveloping the turn-of-the-century structure beside Confluence Park in exchange for $6.3 million in tax increment financing from DURA.
The firm has nine stores in Colorado. Two of those locations – one just-opened in Dillon and now its future space in Greenwood Village – are former Sports Authority shops.
REI has reported that its annual revenue grew 5.5 percent last year to hit $2.56 billion, making it roughly the same size as Sports Authority in the year before it filed bankruptcy. But while Sports Authority’s revenue stagnated from 2006 to 2016, REI reported that its sales jumped 116 percent over the same decade.
The outdoor recreation retailer is not the only business viewing Sports Authority’s demise as an opportunity for a real estate play. Bed Bath & Beyond is moving into the shuttered retailer’s space in Glendale, the Denver Flea has booked its Sportscastle space for weekend markets, and a climbing gym is taking over its former headquarters in Englewood.