Mall negotiations continue past deadline
Beyond that, details are sketchy. The city of Longmont set a deadline of March 1 for Dillard's Inc. (NYSE: DDS) to come to an agreement with Fort Collins-based NewMark Merrill Mountain States, the mall developer, on a redevelopment plan.
"We're still working with NewMark Merrill on a site plan," said Julie Bull, Dillard's spokeswoman. "We don't have any information available on the negotiations or the site plan today."
Allen Ginsborg, the NewMark Merrill developer heading the project, said Friday that "the ball is squarely in Dillard's court to respond" in negotiations.
Ginsborg characterized negotiations between the two parties as a "complex transaction with a lot of moving parts" rather than one where the developer and Dillard's were discussing specific "sticking points."
"We very much would like Dillard's as part of the project, so we still hope we can figure something out," Ginsborg said.
Dillard's, which owns the building it occupies at the mall, can prohibit any new development on the mall site, based on an existing agreement between the retailer and mall owners that was signed several decades ago, Ginsborg has said. Dillard's representatives have said the department store company wants to continue to operate at the site.
The March 1 date was meant to be part of a schedule rather than a strict deadline with penalties, said Brad Power, economic development director. Negotiations can continue until there's a mutual decision that the two parties can't make progress, he said.
"If these parties want to continue to engage in discussions, it's about trying to get them to agreement, Power said. "All of the parties involved are very much at the table working through the issues."
However, the Longmont City Council has scheduled a private meeting for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, to discuss "negotiation positions and strategies regarding redevelopment of the Twin Peaks Mall and the potential acquisition of property interests therein," according to the city of Longmont's website.
City council members also are expected to "receive legal advice, provide instructions to negotiators and consider confidential documents" at the executive session meeting, which is expected to be closed to the public.
Ginsborg said he does not expect to attend Tuesday's meeting.
Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC) held a status meeting with NewMark Merrill on Thursday, Feb. 28, and expects to sign a new lease for the redevelopment project by Friday, March 15, said Russ Nunley, vice president of marketing and communications for the Knoxville, Tennessee,-based company. Regal operates the existing 10-screen United Artists theaters at the site. March 15 is the city's scheduled date for negotiations to be complete with Regal.
"We've been meeting everything the city asked us to do," Nunley said. "The theater deal is coming together very nicely with positive news on our end."
NewMark Merrill bought the aging indoor mall for $8.5 million last year. Since then, Ginsborg has said he has spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on the project. Newmark Merrill has met the other two key points needed to receive $27.5 million in urban renewal authority bonds.
One point was to sign an agreement with the 100,000-square-foot retailer, he said, and the other was to sign a letter of intent with the natural-foods grocery store. The new development is slated to be complete in fall 2014.
NewMark Merrill continues to make progress in signing other retailers to the redeveloped shopping center, Ginsborg said. He said he is optimistic that development will happen "on schedule" to "give everybody a new shopping center for the holidays next year."
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