LeMasters acknowledges that the shopping mall concept has changed over the decades since Cherry Creek was built, and the role of what were traditionally considered the "anchor" stores of a retail area have diminished. "The business has changed -- for example, there are not as many traditional full-line department stores as there once were," he says. "It causes us to become creative thinkers in terms of how we fill that space. The new building is mansion-like and that's an important point, because one of the things we've tried to do with this design is embrace the street.
"The old building that was there was an internally focused building," he continues. "It was really a typical suburban department store in an urban environment. Now we're going inside out and turning the building to embrace the street and embrace the urban landscape that surrounds us.
"Once you get behind, it is almost impossible to catch up -- if you miss your brand in some way and your customer doesn't have faith that you're going to deliver great retail and a great experience, you have to do the basics right. You have to be safe, you have to be perceived as safe, and you have to be clean. The creative execution of a store like Restoration -- and they are rebranding themselves as RH -- is that they really see themselves as a lifestyle brand."
LeMasters points out that the shopping center itself has always emphasized updating facades, fixtures and common areas, to keep the space attractive to both shoppers and retailers. "We are approaching our 25th year in business and when you look at the landscape of shopping centers in the metro area, what you see is one mall after another that has fallen because it didn't remain relevant," he notes. "For us, we take a very long view of the market and in doing so, we are constantly reinvesting in our site, whether it be through new merchants or just a creation of a great experience for the customer.
"If you have been in the mall, you can see that we've really been on a bit of binge here as it relates to capital improvements, all of which are designed to keep our facility relevant in the consumer's eyes, but also very relevant from a merchant point of view," he concludes. "This is a place we want merchants to see as a place they want to be."
Demolition of the old Saks Fifth Avenue structure is slated for April, with the new RH gallery and specialty shops tentatively scheduled to open in late 2015.