Southwest Plaza was a beacon of new age in the 80s. Originally planned as an outdoor strip mall, SW Plaza was soon changed into an indoor shopping center, consisting of 5 anchors (Joslins (Now Dillards), Montgomery Wards, Sears and J.C. Penney’s, over 150 stores, and both above and underground parking.
In the times of Cinderella City’s decline, Villa Italia’s success, and Aurora Mall’s problems, Southwest Plaza seemed to be a righteous place to shop. When people started coming to S.W.P. in November of 1986, it was a great addition to Colorado’s mall variety. Apart from most of Gerri Von Frellick’s creations (Villa Italia, Cinderella City), Southwest Plaza was in a straight layout. There was one main hallway, and a few anchors — That’s it! There was no “W” shape (see Cinderella City mall) or a confusing spider (See Villa Italia). Just a plain, straight line.
However, problems started arising almost immediately. As mentioned in Cinderella City’s article, the halls were bland, and it had almost no natural light… It seemed to be a fad, because S.W.P. was designed the same way. People were turned off to malls in general almost entirely. Thus, skylights were promptly installed, the halls colored (As much as they could be, considering the amount of skylights), and, just like C.C.M., the mall was not without its foot traffic, stores, and happy customers.
In the early 90s, as Cinderella City declined even more, Southwest Plaza managers took advantage of that, and accumulated 20 more stores, added “Dillards”, and had a new slogan: “Live life there, shop for life here”. Beautiful… Except the stores were nothing customers hadn’t seen. So, the mall was left that way, bringing in some money, however small the sum was.
Over the last two years, exterior stores were added, carpet laid, the mall darkened its halls, and began to compete with the few malls it could: Park Meadows, Cherry Creek, and the new “Colorado Mills”. Today, the competition continues. However, S.W.P. is falling behind. Not necessarily a “dead mall”, but it will be…
To add to the mall’s growing competition, MallHistory recently received word that the Sears will be vacating its location (Sears and KMart merged), Dillards is filing Chapter Seven Bankruptcy, and Monkey Wards is already gone. This just leaves Foleys and JC Penney’s. Will this be enough to support the mall much longer?
Hey, it had a good run, however, it’s not polite to stay beyond your welcome.