As the real estate industry's focus shifts away from traditional single-use properties to mixed-use projects, department stores are having a hard time adjusting to their loss of power, according to Sheldon Halpern, an attorney with Pircher, Nichols & Meeks. Though these retailers see a future for themselves in mixed-use projects they want to exert the same kind of control over parking and neighbors as they used to in regional malls, but developers are no longer willing to accommodate them because mixed-use projects often involve several different property owners. "They are used to having their fairly definitive criteria and controlling the entire center, but there needs to be a more creative approach to dealing with them," he says. ... As in recent years, companies were eager to highlight new developments and redevelopment projects. "For us, the amount of new development and redevelopment projects is about equal -- much of the redevelopment we see is about the construction of an outdoor environment on the site of an indoor center and redesign of the vacant spaces left by consolidated department stores," said Tipton Housewright, principal with architecture firm Omniplan. ... "The enclosed mall has become a dinosaur. Mixed-use is where our focus lies," says Erwin L. Greenberg, Chairman of the Board Greenberg Gibbons Commercial Corporation. Greenberg also dismissed the notion that developers may be putting too many mixed-use projects in the hopper. "I'm not worried too much," he says. ... Lenders continue to be creative in how they are financing projects. For example KeyBank Real Estate Capital has started a program to offer 80 percent unrecourse financing for projects in transition, according to Daniel Walsh Jr., managing director of the firm's private equity group. "It's something developers are demanding and it makes sense for assets that are being renovated and can become really great projects." ... Phillips Edison & Co., owners and managers of 18 million square feet of neighborhood and community centers, are undertaking something a little outside that scope. The firm is building the Blue Sky Corporate Ranch near Park City Utah on 3,000 acres. The facility will include a 26,000-square-foot conference center with 12,000 square feet of meeting space, an amphitheater, a 6,400-square-foot wellness center and other amenities. The firm will use the facility itself, but will also allow other companies to rent the facility. ... Gordon Group Holdings announced a joint venture partnership with Morgan Stanley Real Estate Equity Fund to build Lac Mirabel, a $400 million complex including enclosed retail and entertainment facilities. Groundbreaking at the 320-acre mixed use project 30 miles north of Montreal will be in June.
-- Staff Reports