The parent company of Colorado Mills Mall in Lakewood is giving the city mayor as much of the cold shoulder as it is giving to Next.
At a study session on Monday night, Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul ended the meeting by lamenting the lack of information he's getting from the mall's parent company, Simon Property Group.
"I'll just say it's been quite challenging for the city of Lakewood to get information out of the parent company. Now, the management of the Mills is wonderful, Kimra does a great job, but what you tend to see on television is pretty much what we tend to hear or see the same," said Paul.
"I can just tell you that they're working diligently to restore, replace and do what they can to get the mall up and operating," said city manager Kathy Hodgson.
It's that same lack of information that forced Next to do an open records request with the city of Lakewood to see what Simon Property Group was doing in the weeks after the hailstorm.
In those emails, we found out there is an HOA-like organization exists that helps determine how Colorado Mills gets rebuilt, at least on the outside.
"We don't control what happens on the inside, but on the outside, anything that's visual, they have to go through our approval," Denver West Architectural Control Committee member Greg Stevinson said in an interview with Next.
First, let's get some transparency out of the way.
Stevinson is one of the eight Stevinson brothers. His brother, Kent, might be the best known as the car guy. He's also the developer who wanted to put car dealerships on Dinosaur Ridge near C-470 and Alameda Parkway, but was denied the zoning change by Jefferson County Commissioners earlier this year. He's also one of the owners of the land where Colorado Mills was built.
Now, what the heck is the Denver West Architectural Control Committee?
"Basically, the original landowners. When they zoned and annexed the property, they put in an architectural control committee, so it's similar (to an HOA), but it has a broader perspective," said Stevinson.
What Next found in the emails revealed some strict-sounding guidelines.
One email about Target's need to replace its roof, dealt with issues about getting a gray material to match the roof color that was required when the store was constructed.
"The DWACC would prefer that any repairs match the existing color, but given the emergency nature of the situation they are willing to be flexible on the color if needed," wrote a committee member.
"In this instance, with Target, they have a more immediate need than the rest of the mall, but they could not get the gray material in a sufficient time in which to dry out the building where the damage was and put on a permanent roof," said Stevinson. "Upon their explanation that they could not get enough material in time to do what they needed to, we said, 'Well, Target is the furthest away from everybody,' and we said, 'Fine, use the same material that you suggested. The white's acceptable."
He said that kind of pickiness did not slow down any repairs.
"From the first notification we got, we had response back to them in 24 hours and they had an explanation to us as to why they wanted to make the change, and then within an hour we approved their change over the phone," said Stevinson.
The reason the DWACC seems like an HOA is detailed in an agenda from May 17.
"Upon DWACC request, Olive Garden has repainted their exterior stairs in a lighter yellow color. They were painted bright yellow at some point without prior DWACC approval."
"That's picky. Sure it is, sure. Anything we approve becomes a new standard now that others would expect to see," said Stevinson. "They wanted to paint these particular stairs yellow, an industrial bright yellow, something you'd see along the highway kind of a thing, and we thought that was probably a little bit too glaring, perhaps I'll phrase it that way, for a restaurant and that type of a use. So, we've come up with another standard that works. It's been repainted, but that now becomes a new standard for the next person that wants to paint their stairs yellow."
Not everything the DWACC does seems silly. There is a tiered-stone wall on the south side of the mall, which the DWACC fought for in its initial negotiations with the original developer of Colorado Mills.
"It was the first memorable discussion that we had," said Stevinson. "The original proposal was to put about a 30 to 40-foot cinderblock wall there, and that was our first intense conversation about it."
And if you want to do a Web search of "Katy Mills," the mall in Katy, TX, you can see the color scheme that the DWACC would not let come to Lakewood.
"We've talked about Katy Mills, which is in Texas and it's 100 percent Texan," said Stevinson. "In Texas, apparently, it's not disturbing, but I look at the neighbors around us that would be visually impacted and it's just not my style, Mills was great about it, but that started, really, the heavy implementation of the ACC. My personal philosophy is, if you want to be out in the Denver West area, you have certain criteria that you have to meet, and if not, we understand, there are other places to go and that's alright."