Opening Doors

Just a decade ago, site selection was pretty straightforward. You were a mall retailer, or you weren’t. You were a strip-center retailer, or you weren’t. Today’s fuller menu of shopping center formats, while adding complexity to strategic site planning, is providing a range of options for retailers wanting to break out of an outdated site mold.

The Village at Sacramento Gateway, Sacramento, Calif.

Developer: Opus West Corp.Size: The Village offers 726,000 sq. ft. of retail, part of an overall 1.3 million-sq.-ft. mixed-use development.Status: The final retail phase is open; a hotel is slated to begin construction in 2007 and the office complex will be complete in 2008.Major tenants: The Village tenants include Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Anchor Blue, Starbucks and Center Court with C-Webb (NBA star Chris Webber’s first restaurant).

In Sacramento, Calif., the largest mixed-use project in the region, expected to bring in approximately $4 million in tax revenue annually, has people talking. Sacramento Gateway, at 1.3 million sq. ft., features large-format retail, office space, hotel and restaurants—and its new Main Street component, The Village, is the tie that binds. “The Village binds the Sacramento Gateway’s large-format retail, Class A office space, hotels and restaurants together with its intimate Main Street village feel,” said Opus West senior VP Don Little. Designed in a traditional Main Street format, The Village offers a mix of boutique shops, dining and entertainment venues.

Ridge Hill Village Center, Yonkers, N.Y.

Developer: Forest City Ratner Cos.Size: 1.2 million sq. ft. of retail and entertainmentStatus: Under development and slated to open in 2008Major tenants: National Amusements, Whole Foods Market, The Home Depot, L.L. Bean

Westchester County in New York is about as attractive to retail as an area can be. Not only is the area dense and affluent, but it is underserved with the type of retail—lifestyle—that other areas of the country currently enjoy. “For the New York market, Ridge Hill Village Center will be a unique offering,” said Richard Pesin, executive VP and director of the retail development group for Forest City Ratner Cos. “There are no lifestyle projects of this scale in the New York metropolitan area.” The Village Center is the lifestyle component of a mixed-use destination—Ridge Hill—that will offer retail, entertainment, office and residential components in addition to a hotel and conference center—all modeled after a pedestrian-friendly town center environment.

The most fashion-forward of open-air formats—the lifestyle center—is attracting the more site-progressive retail concepts. But a center doesn’t have to be labeled “lifestyle” to offer open-air possibilities. Mixed-use developments—ones that incorporate lifestyle elements into the mix, but layer additional uses on top of the lifestyle attraction—are garnering attention from tenants as well. Here we highlight four developments—lifestyle centers and mixed-use destinations—that are among the projects leading the way in open-air retail options.

Pearland Town Center, Pearland (Houston), Texas

Developer: CBL & Associates PropertiesSize: 1.2 million sq. ft.Status: Site construction to begin in the first quarter of 2007, with a grand opening projected for fall 2008Major tenants: Anchored by Dillard’s and Macy’s; also featuring Barnes & Noble and more than 90 specialty retailers and restaurants such as Chico’s, White House/Black Market, Ann Taylor Loft and Coldwater Creek. Courtyard by Marriott is the lodging component.

Michael Lebovitz, senior VP of mall projects for CBL & Associates Properties, doesn’t hesitate to describe the much-anticipated Pearland Town Center project as CBL’s most ambitious to date. “We are combining five uses—retail, outparcel retail, residential, office and hotel—into one project, whereas a typical regional mall project would combine perhaps one or two uses,” he said. All five uses in this 147-acre development will both complement and drive each other. “The residential, office and lodging uses are located above the retail, as part of the Main Street project,” Lebovitz said. Thanks to the on-site residents, the hotel visitors and the office inhabitants, the restaurants, for example, “will enjoy built-in clientele beyond just retail shoppers.” Pearland Town Center is designed to be a “town center” in every sense, in that it will offer an all-in-one live-work-play environment. The area’s heritage has served as inspiration for design elements and architecture; canopies, trellises, awnings and colonnades will frame the facade of the storefronts.

Biltmore Fashion Park, Phoenix

Developer: Westcor, a subsidiary of The Macerich Co.Size: 30 acres, encompassing 610,477 sq. ft. of retail, entertainment, restaurant and office spaceStatus: Phase 1 of the redevelopment began in February 2006, with a grand opening held Nov. 17, 2006; Phase II launches in late 2007.Major tenants: Saks Fifth Avenue, Apple Store, Calypso, Cartier, Escada, Hyde Park Jewelers

Although lifestyle centers are all the buzz, Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix has embodied the idea of open-air luxury retail for more than 40 years. An ambitious redevelopment project, launched in 2006 by developer Westcor, restored outdoor spaces to their original grandeur, completely redesigned the exterior, improving pedestrian and traffic circulation, and added a new pedestrian-level streetscape. “Biltmore Fashion Park’s redevelopment has been a fantastic example of community, retailers and development working together to deliver a very important retail project to the city of Phoenix,” said David Scholl, senior VP of development for Westcor. Phase II of the redevelopment includes proposed plans to introduce mixed-use, high-rise developments to the center through residential, hotel or office components.