Aurora’s Southlands Shopping Center to unveil slate of new amenities this weekend

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AURORA | Aurora’s bougiest outdoor shopping center is about to get a bit bougier.

Southlands Shopping Center is kicking off a weekend of festivities Sept. 25 to unveil a slew of new amenities at the south Aurora retail complex.

The event caps a years-long retooling of the area’s town square, which now features a new clock tower, pop-jet fountain, children’s play area and expanded fire pit.

The additions totaled several million dollars, though the mall’s management entity declined to provide specific financial figures.

“This renovation project has been in the works for nearly two years,” Gregg Wilkow, executive vice president of the operating group that purchased the mall in 2018, said in a statement. “ … We see this as an important investment for the community.”

While retailers nationwide have been decimated by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, Southlands has been able to add new tenants such as Sephora, Five Below and Anthony Vince Nail Spa in recent months.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman credited Wilkow with buoying the complex that bills itself as the largest retail location in Colorado with 1.7 million square feet of commerce.

“Certainly the success of Southlands during these recent times and their commitment to Aurora is a testament to the strategic planning of the M & J Wilkow management,” Coffman said in a statement. “It also demonstrates the overall need and importance of Southlands to our community.”

Despite early concerns that the pandemic would be the death knell of brick and mortar retail, sales tax revenues have managed to rebound in Aurora this summer, city officials said at a recent city council policy committee meeting. Estimates show that the city’s sales tax revenues in August were roughly the same as they were during the same in 2019, indicating more stability in the sector than expected.

That comes several months after industry titans like Neiman Marcus, J. Crew Group and others filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following nationwide shelter-in-place orders. The former Sears pad in Aurora was razed to make space for a new sports facility last year.

The celebration at Southlands this weekend is slated to kickoff at 12 p.m. Friday with the debut of new murals from local artists Austin Zucchini-Fowler and Pat Milberry. A miniature chalk art festival and fitness demonstrations will begin at the same time. A laser light show will follow upon nightfall at 7 p.m.

Social distancing measures will be enforced throughout the weekend. For the full list of programs, visit shopsouthlands.com/eventprograms/grand-opening.