McWhinney plans to push mixed-use as it pursues Foothills mall takeover

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While it’s early, McWhinney Real Estate Services Inc. is thinking of pulling design elements from its other major developments across the Front Range as part of its plan to acquire and revive the Foothills mall.

In an interview with BizWest, McWhinney president Ray Pittman said the company is doing due diligence before it formally acquires the property, which is projected in the second half of 2021. He declined to comment on how the remaining $46.59 million on the construction loan could affect the final sale price or the property’s value.

Pittman said the company plans to restore a sense of place for Foothills, which has long struggled to attract consistent foot traffic even before the pandemic brought immense pressure on the in-person retail sector.

He said Foothills failed to keep up with trends that draw people to a shopping district, leaving the mall feeling “tired” rather than an exciting place to gather.

“People like to be in social settings, but the place has to be conducive to that,” he said. “And over time, Foothills mall has lost the shopping experience and isn’t really what people are looking for anymore.”

Pittman said there have been preliminary discussions with the city about the redevelopment, but those conversations haven’t delved into potential zoning issues or the involvement of the metro district that partially funded infrastructure construction on the Foothills property.

Fort Collins economic development director Josh Birks said McWhinney has mostly been in contact with his office about the process for requesting development-related changes and did not mention anything about the mix of attractions it would consider bringing in.

When asked how much a redesigned Foothills would look like other major McWhinney entertainment centers such as Centerra, Baseline and Denver’s Union Station, Pittman said the company will draw market research specifically within Fort Collins but will lean heavily on a mixed-use design.

“They’re all different, but they’re all going to have common elements of a mix of uses brought together in a unique environment to make it a place that people want to come to, just to experience the place,” Pittman said.

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