Directing Traffic

Just because a shopping center is labeled “destination” doesn’t make it big, though it can be. It doesn’t mean it’s anchored by an arena or an amusement park, although that’s also a possibility. And it doesn’t have to be located in Florida or Hawaii—but that doesn’t hurt.

Shopping destinations simply have significant pull, whether for their tenant mix or their amenities or their location. Chain Store Age profiles two such destinations in this issue; both are located in desirable locations—one near Destin, Fla., and the other in Waikiki, Hawaii—and both have tremendous draws, for tourists and residents alike.

Grand Boulevard at Sandestin: Modeled after the town squares that still dot small towns throughout America, Grand Boulevard at Sandestin has a lot going for it—a dynamic lifestyle experience, access to exclusive shopping and dining as well as corporate offices and lodging, a beautiful park, not to mention a coastal location at the entrance to the luxurious, 2,400-acre Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.

Myra Williams, VP of marketing for Miramar Beach, Fla.-based Howard Group, developers of the $250 million lifestyle town-center retail project, said that Grand Boulevard has something else that has secured its slot in the destination genre—and that is a predominantly first-to-market lineup of shopping and dining establishments. “Grand Boulevard is one-of-a-kind in our region,” said Williams. “Northwest Florida simply doesn’t offer this kind of shopping and dining experience anywhere else.” Market debuts include J. Crew at-the-beach, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Cafe & Emporium, Coldwater Creek, The Orvis Co., J. Jill, and the region’s first P.F. Chang’s.

Lush landscaping (in fact, said Williams, approximately $4.2 million was spent on a stunning array of more than 50 types of trees and bushes) and Mediterranean-influenced architecture set the town center apart from other venues in the region. As well, “a public green space named Grand Park includes a specially designed fountain, a large lawn and benches,” said Williams.

The primary market for Grand Boulevard is the geographic area between Tallahassee, Fla., and Mobile, Ala., which, said Williams, includes permanent residents, vacationers and secondary homeowners. What’s more, Walton County, where Grand Boulevard at Sandestin is located, has been labeled one of the 100 fastest-growing counties in the United States. “This area is primed and the location is ideal to support an immensely distinctive mixed-use center,” said Williams.

Waikiki Beach Walk: Some 7 million visitors travel to Hawaii each year, giving retail destinations some of the richest pickings from which to establish seasonal customer bases. Populate those retail destinations with entertainment retail and restaurants—and the mix is proving irresistible to tourists and residents alike.

Waikiki Beach Walk is a phoenix of sorts, rising from the ashes of an agingarea between Kalakaua Avenue and Waikiki Beach that was home to hotels, apartment buildings and sub-standard sidewalks and roadways. In April 2005, developer Outrigger Enterprises Group, Honolulu, broke ground on a vibrant and pedestrian-friendly, open-air promenade which fully opened last month. The two-level retail entertainment complex is surrounded by lush landscaping, elaborate water features and lofty glass canopies.

According to Barbara Campbell, VP of retail development and leasing for Outrigger, Waikiki Beach Walk has emerged as a true destination, driven in no small way by dining. “While we largely serve tourists, we do have great appeal for the local residents mostly because of our dining opportunities,” she said. About 60% of Waikiki Beach Walk’s tenants are restaurants, and the variety is unmatched in the area. “We have Italian, Japanese, Yard House with its huge selection of beers, regional cuisine and several new-to-Hawaii restaurants,” continued Campbell. “We put a heavy emphasis on the restaurant offerings.”

Retail runs to small (1,000-sq.-ft. averages), exclusive, locally made and styled merchandise intended to present the best of what Hawaii has to offer in terms of apparel, jewelry, home decor and novelty items. An array of cultural programs, events and live entertainment, including hula and ukulele lessons and a signature Hawaiian Music Heritage Program featuring historical exhibits and a concert series, further underscores Waikiki Beach Walk’s position as an island destination. The design of the center echoes its Hawaiian roots. The plaza fountain at the center of the project honors the Spouting Waters of Waikiki, the glass canopies overhead are in the shape of waves, and columns are surfboard-inspired.

“Waikiki Beach Walk is about the waves, the ocean,” said Campbell. “It’s about Hawaii.”