Oct 302005
 
Authors: James Baetke

LOVELAND – Noises once familiar to the site of the Promenade Shops at Centerra – cement pouring and bulldozers roaring – were silenced Friday, yielding to a quieter sound: the snip-snip of ceremonial scissors slicing through ribbon.

After nearly a year of construction and intense pushing by Loveland city officials, the shopping center opened Friday, marking the beginning of what some expect to be the epicenter of shopping in Northern Colorado for years to come.

The 700,000-acre site sits on the interchange between U.S. Highway 24 and Interstate 25 and was designed by Tennessee-based Poag & McEwen who partnered with McWhinney Enterprises to sign tenants.

The 30 or so shops that were able to open in time were christened Friday by a detailed parade with a marching band, circus performers and unannounced guest Michael Kercheval, president of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

"I wish we had this in New York, or at least in New Jersey or somewhere," Kercheval said.

On Saturday, free concerts rocked the Centerra Main Street to local flavors such as Wendy Woo and the Woo Crew and Something Underground.

The lifestyle center is in an open-air atmosphere where shoppers visit shop-to-shop by walking outdoors. The customer is supposed to feel like they are in a village environment with detailed landscaping, parks, an ice arena and amphitheatre to boot.

Shops cluster together in categories. Men's clothing is grouped together as is health and beauty. Each store is equipped with a bathroom so hurrying shoppers do not have to seek out designated bathrooms.

The center expects to be a major economic boost for Northern Colorado, but cities like Fort Collins and Greeley will see tax revenue decrease while Loveland will likely see upwards of a $2 million boost in sales tax revenues the first year.

Developers estimate 5 million people will visit the mall in its first year.

Matt Mitchell, the general manager for Red Robin at Centerra, said business was great and sales figures have been on the rise since its early opening Monday.

This newest location for the gourmet burger chain is the 20th to open in Colorado.

"The first couple of days have been fantastic," Mitchell said

Red Robin was the first restaurant to open in the center and had guests waiting over an hour to eat. Mitchell is not afraid of other restaurants opening soon.

"I think the other restaurants opening bring business," he said.

On the Border, P.F. Changs China Bistro, Biaggi's, Bent Fork the Grill and Sullivan's Steakhouse are among the restaurants expected to open soon.

Many of the shoppers were excited about the opening and others were less than impressed.

Joe Margetto, a resident of Laramie, Wyo., left early Friday morning with his wife and 8-year-old son to check out the new shops.

"Ya know, when the holiday season comes, this is going to be the prime place to shop. They actually have a variety," Margetto said.

Bethany Miles, a junior psychology major, was not impressed by shops or the 14-screen cineplex.

"I felt they could have done more with it," she said. "The more stuff they add to it the better it might be. They just don't have a lot of to offer."

Miles also doesn't like the fact the mall is outdoors

"We live in Colorado and when it snows it's going to be a bummer," Miles said.

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