Littleton firefighters on the scene of last week’s fire at an abandoned strip mall.
BY PETER JONES
A no-injuries fire last week at the long-abandoned Columbine Square strip mall may have done as much improvement as anything else within Littleton’s last-remaining urban-renewal district.
The center at South Federal Boulevard and Belleview Avenue, which was anchored by Safeway in its heyday, has been vacant for nearly four years and has been an unofficial center for the city’s homeless. Officials say no one was apparently in the one now-destroyed building when the fire erupted in the early morning hours of Jan. 3.
South Metro Fire Rescue aided Littleton Fire Rescue in putting out the blaze.
“Fire investigators are working with the chief building official to evaluate the property and determine a cause,” city spokeswoman Kelli Narde wrote in a statement. “There are no known injuries and no known occupants inside, however, evidence of homeless activity was found in and around buildings in the area. As the investigation continues specialized equipment will be used to lift the collapsed roof to ensure there is nothing of significance underneath.”
The aftermath of the recent fire may spur urban renewal sooner than later. Courtesy of Littleton Fire Rescue
Narde had not returned a request for further comment at press time.
City officials and business leaders have for years considered Columbine Square a public eyesore. The former shopping center has been a focal point for Littleton Invests for Tomorrow, the city’s beleaguered urban-renewal authority.
According to LIFT’s website, a “significant challenge associated with redevelopment of the Columbine Square area is the number of parcels owned by out-of-state interests, particularly those that are part of a larger portfolio of assets, whereas these often lack the attention received by those with a local presence and higher expectation of financial return.”
Eighty-two percent of the heavily vandalized 14-building development has no fire sprinklers, according to the website.
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