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J.C. Penney has shut its doors at the Chapel Hills Mall; who will replace it?

Published: May 20, 2014, 10:34 am, by Rich Laden
The J.C. Penney store at the Chapel Hills Mall in Colorado Springs closed May 3. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

The J.C. Penney store at the Chapel Hills Mall in Colorado Springs closed May 3. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

J.C. Penney has closed its store at the Chapel Hills Mall in Colorado Springs. The national retailer followed through on its announcement earlier this year and shuttered the store May 3. The closure leaves a 62,000-square-foot, two-level empty space in the mall, at Academy and Briargate boulevards on the Springs’ north side.

Is another retailer poised to move into the space? CBL & Associates Management Inc. of Chattanooga, Tenn., which is handling the leasing of the mall, “has a good lead” on filling the former J.C. Penney storefront, said Victoria Harley, Chapel Hills’ general manager. She declined to be more specific.

J.C. Penney opened at Chapel Hills in March 1995 and had been one of several mall anchors. But the struggling retailer announced in January it would close 33 stores nationwide; the 62,000-square-foot size of the Chapel Hills store was much smaller than J.C. Penney’s other Colorado Springs stores at The Citadel mall and at the First & Main Town Center, which made it a candidate for closure.

Over the last several months, Chapel Hills — owned by New York-based Garrison Investment Group — has added popular clothier H&M, a 13-screen Carmike movie theater complex and several other stores. Harley said mall officials hope to have an announcement this week about another retailer coming to the mall.

Besides J.C. Penney, Kmart also closed a store at Powers and Palmer Park boulevards in May.

Filling big box spaces is always a challenge, as commercial real estate experts will tell you.