Cherry Creek Shopping Center welcomes a new four-story Restoration Hardware gallery store

The empty space at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center once occupied by Saks Fifth Avenue is slated to become a four-story Restoration Hardware gallery store, officially rebranding as "RH." The 53,000 square- foot showroom will be four times the size of the current Restoration Hardware store and feature an atrium, outdoor garden and rooftop park, as well as the brand's product lines for living, dining, bed, bath, lighting, tableware and more. The original Saks will be demolished to make way for RH, along with 38,000 square feet of additional speciality merchants.

See also: Best of Denver 2013 - Best Indoor Mall: Cherry Creek Shopping Center

"With the closure of Saks a few years ago, we'd been looking for the right tenant or tenants to go into that space," says Nick LeMasters, general manager at Cherry Creek. "That came together with an opportunity with Restoration Hardware -- they have been extraordinarily successful and the customer response to some of the changes they've made has just been great. But they, too, have changed strategy in that they are really focusing on these larger gallery concepts. I guess it was really just an opportunity that was seized by both Restoration and Cherry Creek and was a chance to bring a whole new perspective with a brand that will truly be a regional draw for Denver."

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.