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Fight to Save the Final Remains of Cinderella City

Inside Cinderella City in its prime and the current Englewood Civic Center.EXPAND
Inside Cinderella City in its prime and the current Englewood Civic Center.
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Cinderella City was once the Denver area's most famous mall and among Colorado's greatest tourist attractions — a sprawling shopping extravaganza complete with a giant fountain and a handcrafted Italian carousel that stood 28 feet high. But while the spectacular edifice, which debuted in 1968, was torn down in the late 1990s, a portion of the structure remains: The former Broadway Southwest department store, added to the complex in 1985, was converted into the Englewood Civic Center.

Now, however, the City of Englewood is laying the groundwork for a new neighborhood development dubbed CityCenter that could result in the destruction of Cinderella City's final remains — but not if Josh Goldstein has anything to say about it.

A Denver-based designer, Goldstein is the man behind The Cinderella City Project, a fascinating effort to recreate the mall online as a virtual reality video experience. We've tracked Goldstein's progress since 2018, the mall's fiftieth anniversary, providing regular updates about his efforts to create a virtual landscape in which users can get happily lost just as consumers did in the physical space back in the day.

Click to see a brand new clip showing off The Cinderella City Project.

But Goldstein is also concerned about the real world. He's launched a change.org petition entitled "Save the Englewood Civic Center from Demolition," whose introduction notes that "the City of Englewood is planning to redevelop certain parts of the larger CityCenter neighborhood, and the Civic Center building is likely to be demolished if action isn't taken."

To that end, "I set out to combine my experience in architecture and software design, to illustrate an adaptive reuse vision for the future of the Englewood Civic Center, knowing that adaptive reuse projects preserve history while creating places with authentic character, often costing less than new construction," he says. "This is a one-of-a-kind building found only here in Englewood. Its location and historic significance make it uniquely positioned to become the heart of CityCenter, bringing new life to the southwest corner of the neighborhood."

Here's a video Goldstein created to lay out his plan:

Brad Power, Englewood's director of community development, stresses that no decision has yet been made regarding the face of the Englewood Civic Center.

"A redevelopment plan for CityCenter has not been finalized," Power notes. "The City of Englewood and its selected development partner, SKB of Portland, Oregon, are still working through options for the redevelopment of the site. The Civic Center building occupies a key portion of the site that, if redeveloped, could offer more effective redevelopment and utilization of the area around the RTD light rail and bus stations. There will be ongoing discussions between the parties about the extent and timing of the redevelopment, and the future of the Civic Center building will be a key element in the negotiations."

Englewood communications director Christopher Harguth adds, "A formal site plan for the redevelopment has not been submitted by SKB because the negotiations remain focused on how various real estate transactions must transpire to enable CityCenter to be positioned for redevelopment. The redevelopment of the Civic Center site and building or its adaptive reuse will be further assessed by the developer and any subsequent proposal will be the subject of community review and comment when specific plans are offered for the site. The Englewood City Council will make the final decision regarding whether adaptive reuse of the Civic Center building, or its redevelopment offers the most long term benefit to the community."

In the meantime, more than 600 people have signed Goldstein's petition (anyone can, whether they live in Englewood or not), and he remains dedicated to doing all he can to save what's left of Cinderella City.

"Englewood demolishes too many of its historic buildings," he concludes, "and it's time to save a building of significance and transform it into the new heart of the CityCenter neighborhood."

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