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How to Lease a Mall

Retail developers and architects have long been trying to define a formula for creating a successful mall, especially in a multi-level environment. This has been a particular challenge in New York City, where many people are so used to shopping on street level going up an escalator to a third or fourth floor doesn't hold much appeal.

An article in today's New York Times takes a look at how the Related Companies made a multi-level format work at Time Warner Center. The success at that venue has much to do with leasing selectively, the article reports.

Paco Underhill, the chief executive of Envirosell, a retail consultancy, and the author of “The Call of the Mall” and other popular books on retailing, said “there is a big difference between operating a mall and an ‘all.' ” Unlike the “all” approach, in which developers are less constrained to be selective of their tenants, Mr. Underhill explained, “a mall requires lots of leasing decisions.”

Trial and error play an inevitable role. Along with the Whole Foods store, an immediate hit, the center's earliest efforts focused on high-end retailers like the shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, Tourneau watches and the accessories store J. W. Cooper.

While these have proved successful, Related found that bringing in more mainstream, though still relatively upscale, brands like J. Crew, Sephora and Esprit also bolstered traffic.

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