The First Convenience Center:
Highlands Ranch’s First Shopping Center Opened in 1983
When Highlands Ranch was first built in 1981, residents had to travel outside their new community for shopping. There weren’t shopping centers, let alone stores or markets.
At that time, InterWest Bank was the only building on the site that was being planned for Highlands Ranch’s first shopping center, according to John Kilrow, then Vice President for Development for Mission Viejo, the original owner of Highlands Ranch.
Artist rendering of the Convenience Center and Office Building in the above picture.
Fast forward to 1983… That shopping “convenience center,” though very small by today’s standards, was built on Springer Drive off South Broadway. The convenience center curved building was built first, followed by the 30,000 sq. ft. office building that would house the Inter-West Bank. The pppphoto below shows the curved building, viewed looking towards the east. The completed building across the street, on the south side, is the Highlands Ranch Metropolitan District Administration Building.
7-Eleven anchored the new center in a 1,300-square-foot space. The iconic 7-Eleven touts itself “as the world’s first convenience store”, thus it was fitting as one of the center’s first occupants. “Besides 7-Eleven, other businesses were a sandwich shop, the Mission Viejo Mortgage Center, and a design center where residents could order appliances for their new homes,” Kilrow recalled.
A February 15, 1984 article in the Douglas County Daily News Press went into greater detail about the burgeoning development in the new community.
The InterWest Bank building is now Wells Fargo and the site is known as Wells Fargo Center, located near the AMC 24 Theaters.
Katie Juan, a life-long resident of Highlands Ranch, grew up across the street from the center. “I watched it being built and later rode my bike over there,” she said. Juan saw store occupants change over the years. 7-Eleven later became a pizza joint. In January 2019, Ashlee and James Brejcha converted the space to Purgatory Cellars Winery, where Juan is the lead bartender.
After watching the center being built 38 years ago and now working on that site, her life has come full circle!
Katie Juan and Megan Kinghorn, Tasting Room Manager, in front of the Purgatory wine barrel entrance sign.
Purgatory Winery, located at 30 Springer Dr., is a modern-day business housed in the sturdy brick building and has taken great care to create a beautiful and cozy atmosphere so that the former early use of the space as a 7-Eleven retail store is a long-distant memory. The HR Herald wrote an article (link is external) recently, describing the business and interior.
Today there are many other businesses, in addition to Purgatory Winery, located in the long, curved convenience center building. Take a trip back in time, and visit the convenience center, stroll thru the modern businesses, observe the beautiful brickwork of both the center and the Wells Fargo building, and picture yourself back in 1983, when this was the ONLY commercial building site in Highlands Ranch!!!