Inline Play Area Doubles as Family Retreat Center


Soutwest Plaza custom play area woodland theme

During a recent year-long renovation, Southwest Plaza in Littleton, CO, owned by General Growth Properties, took a whole new approach to their play area philosophy: they used an inline space to create a family retreat center, including bathrooms, a nursing room, comfortable seating and counter seating.

“The inline space is very convenient for parents because it’s comfortable and everything is contained in one location,” says Carol Winiger, Strategic Partnerships Representative with GGP. “The space is separated from the hustle and bustle of mall traffic which makes it easier for parents to relax while their kids play and enjoy themselves.”

She says parents have commented on the convenience and are grateful that they “don’t have to pack up all the kids just because one has to go to the bathroom.”


Yet, while the Playsoft play area is not in the middle of mall traffic, it is still strategically located next to shops and dining experiences that parents often seek. Additionally, the play area/retreat center offers a Wi-Fi counter with high stools, phone charging stations and comfortable benches along an internal wall.

PLAYTIME’s Director of Business Development, Jeff Evans, says the play space is located near child- and family-oriented retailers, including a children’s shoe store, a pottery painting store and a coffee shop.

Every detail of the new family retreat center was scrutinized by the company, which sought a less “whimsical” play experience to match the elegant renovations recently completed.

“GGP just did an extensive remodel of Southwest Plaza, including the exterior and interior of the center,” explains Winiger. “The materials used reflect a modern, sophisticated Colorado lifestyle and we wanted the play area to be an extension of that.”


Evans said the company’s artists and designers worked with GGP to arrive at a play area that would honor the shopping center’s desired aesthetic.

“During the process, we presented the idea of using a matte finish instead of a shiny finish and that was a big help to getting them where they wanted to be,” he recalls.

Winiger adds, “We didn’t want a glossy finish. We had gorgeous, natural materials throughout the center so we wanted the play area to be more natural looking, yet still fun for children. Ultimately, we also got away from a primary color palette and went with colors found in nature.”


The inline play area also has a sponsor. Centura Health is the exclusive healthcare sponsorship partner of the new play area in Southwest Plaza. Centura Health recently launched a new advertising campaign, “Pioneering Health.” To bring that message and the Centura Health brand into the play area, PLAYTIME created a Centura sign for the cabin element similar to cabins in the national parks. There is also a magnetic wall surrounding the play area where Centura Health will post large play pieces.

The new play area philosophy – creating a family retreat center out of a vacant, inline store space – is part of GGP’s new approach to serving the changing demographics in the region surrounding Southwest Plaza.

“There is a lot of growth around the center,” says Winiger. “Ken-Caryl Ranch, Sterling Ranch, Roxborough Park neighborhoods… there’s just a lot of development happening. We felt like Southwest Plaza was well-positioned to cater to that market, so GGP invested heavily in the renovations.”

She adds that, in addition to adding retailers plus changing all of the flooring, seating and restrooms, GGP revamped all of the center’s amenities, including Wi-Fi throughout, more family areas, a casual dining area with a video wall, fire pit, glass patio, and new restaurants.

“This new play area just adds to the many enhancements at Southwest Plaza,” she says. “It’s an entirely new offering to our customers.”