With competition for established retailers more intense, the Macerich Company has launched a new program called Mac 50 to improve communication and feedback between Macerich and 50 of its biggest tenants on what the retailers are looking for in a shopping center, which areas they would like to expand into and how Macerich can best help them achieve their goals. For example, there have been instances when prospective tenants would disapprove of the company's site plans for a particular center -- Macerich would then go back and rework the plans to fit their needs. The idea for the program came after the Federated Department Stores merger left the company with a number of vacant spaces it wanted to find the best uses for. "When you are a public company, the focus kind of shifts to being all about development, but we wanted to meet with retailers and ask them where they really want to go," says Tracey Gotsis, senior vice president of marketing with Macerich. ... As the cost of land continues to escalate, retail real estate companies are still looking at redevelopment as the most logical alternative for improving their income streams. Repositioning of existing shopping centers in gentrifying areas is what retail REIT Federal Realty Investment Trust will be concentrating on in the next few years. "Because we've been around so long, we have a lot of properties in areas that have gotten better over the years and we have a lot of opportunities there," says Federal's Don Wood. ... The Service Employees International Union (SEIU)and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)held a press conference early Monday morning criticizing the recent proliferation of mall curfews. The organizations say that some youths--particularly people of color--are being unfairly targeted by mall management and security officers. "We see a strong link between treating customers and workers fairly," says Mike Blain, senior campaign communications specialist for SEIU. "We're concerned about the harassment of young Black and Latino shoppers." The press conference tied curfews with SEIU's efforts to unionize security officers and janitors. Last year it reached deals with both Simon Property Group and Westfield America. This year, its efforts seem to be focused on General Growth Properties, who was the main company cited during the press conference. ... The United States Conference of Mayors' Mayors Climate Protection Center announced a partnership with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to encourage local leaders to combat global warming in cities by launching an annual Mayors' Climate Protection Awards Program. The Mayors' Climate Protection Awards program will honor efforts in areas such as greening of municipal buildings facilities and operations; improving local air quality; reducing carbon dioxide emissions and combating climate change locally; increasing the use of energy-efficient products and transportation, including mass transit; and supporting green housing projects. For more information, go here. ... In recent years there has been a proliferation of former professional athletes--particularly Dallas Cowboys--getting involved in retail real estate. You can add former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin to that list. Irvin held court at The Tetra Companies' booth in the South Hall where he discussed the founding of TMI Group which hopes to raise $45 million to complete $180 million in mixed-use developments in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic primarily in infill markets starting with Irvin's home town of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Irvin says that when he took his sons to see his hometown they couldn't believe that was where he was from and immediately he was struck with a desire to revitalize the neighborhood where he grew up. "It hit me that I had been doing everything I had been doing in my career, but I hadn't looked at what I'd left behind," Irvin says. "I had left a lot of people in that area and realized I had an opportunity to revitalize it." The projects TMI Group will pursue will be small mixed-use developments combining affordable condominiums with service retail and other assorted uses depending on the market ranging from hotels to seniors housing to single-family homes. ... Developers Diversified Realty is teaming with acclaimed Brazilian artist Romero Britto to tour his painting and sculptures at 13 of its lifestyle centers beginning this fall. Most of the centers will be in markets with affluent Hispanic populations. ... The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, Inc. has formed Atlanta-based Inland Atlantic Development Corp. that will develop centers in the Southeastern U.S. It will be headed by many of the former senior managers of Inland Retail Real Estate Trust, Inc., which was acquired by Developers Diversified earlier this year for $6.2 billion. ... Madison Marquette closed on the Madison Marquette Retail Enhancement Fund -- a $487 million private equity vehicle that will invest in retail real estate properties. Madison Marquette will transform these assets into mixed-use destinations. The Funds' investors include institutional investors such as ABP, ColoradoPERS, OhioSERS, PennsylvaniaSERS and Wells Fargo.
-- Staff Reports