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Mall construction changes

Sally J. Taylor

Until last week, the owners of Round Hill Mall thought they could work around the existing tenants. Instead, on Wednesday, eviction notices were delivered to about 10 mall business owners.

“Last week we had a hard-core talk from the contractors,” said co-owner Doug Rostello of Round Hill Ventures, which purchased the aging mall last spring. They plan to tear down the existing structure and build a new center.

The original plan called for moving tenants around in phases so businesses could stay open through most of the yearlong building process.

“The contractors on site said it was a great plan, but you can’t do it,” Rostello said.

“Until last week, we didn’t know what we had to do. We have to take out more than we expected to (in the first phase).”

About 25 reasons, including the way the mall was wired and safety issues, stood in the way of what Rostello and his partners thought would be the best way to rebuild the mall and take care of the tenants’ business needs.

Decisions on how to handle the changes were not decided until the weekend, Rostello said.

“We feel terrible. There’s not a whole lot of options. Working around tenants is delicate and difficult.”

Tenant issues are normally handled by partner and mall manager Andrew Macdonald, who was not available. Rostello thought about 10 evictions were delivered but did not know why some businesses were not evicted.

“Some are in the strike zone and some aren’t,” he said.

The project will still be done in phases but will not leave enough room for all the businesses to move around.

Even the United States Post Office is facing a rushed change of plans. Rostello expects it will be moved into the former Bueno Ricos’ space but the federal headquarters in Denver has to approve any change.

With an existing building in the way of new construction “this is a complicated project, a dynamic project. It changes every day,” Rostello said. “With the building season and phasing the project, the difficulty is tenfold.”

The mall owners are taking steps to alleviate some of the difficulties of the abrupt notice. Rent checks that had already been paid will be refunded and they have enlisted Zephyr Real Estate to look for spaces for the evicted tenants.

Demolition will begin May 1. The new facility, which will be built around a central courtyard rather than a mall, is expected to be completed in May or June of 1998.

“We’ll get this thing built and we’ll have space available,” Rostello said. “Hopefully the community will end up with a facility it can be proud of.”


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