Retail Traffic

Q: What is the successor to lifestyle centers concepts? Is there a clear successor?

Carter & Burgess, Inc.

Dale Ciapetti, Senior Designer: North Hills is a great example of taking the successfully realized attributes of a lifestyle center and integrating them back into actual urban or semi-urban neighborhoods requiring revitalization. Recent studies suggest that the shoppers/consumers of today are really hearkening back to their own childhood experiences and want to seek out the next-generation retail environment as a true community/town center experience.

Dorsky Hodgson + Partners

William Dorsky, President: The first thing to do is define “lifestyle center.” There are many variations. It means different things to different people. I don't think we can define what a successor might be until the existing concept is more clearly defined and the concept evolves further. A lifestyle center is highly dependent on the many surrounding influences and needs of each location and market area.

Beame Architectural Partnership

Lawrence Beame, President: The successor to the lifestyle center will be its predecessor, Main Street. The idea of lifestyle centers is not new, but the way they are being developed is. The best examples are the centers created within the existing urban grid.

Many of today's lifestyle centers are adaptations that respond to the lack of traditional anchor/department stores. Big box retailers, cinemas and smaller department stores will be included increasingly in the mix. New and creative mixes of retail and entertainment uses will be combined in the new lifestyle centers. They will be part of mixed use developments with major components that include retail, residential, office, hotel and civic/public use such as a city hall, library or museum.

In the near future, there is no clear successor. Lifestyle centers will evolve in ways that respond to the needs and demands of the culture of the time, emphasizing the best attributes — convenience, efficiency, social interaction, variety and value. At the same time, each component must have its individual identity and attributes appropriate for that particular use. Spaces must be properly scaled and comfortable, yet offer variety and sense of discovery. Retail must be convenient and visible, and the retail street must be strategically merchandised.

KA, Inc. Architecture

James B. Heller, President: The lifestyle center today is still trying to identify itself to the consumer. The type of retailer really determines the format for the layout. Some retailers desire a linear configuration with parking at the front door for easy accessibility and then there are others who look to make more of an environmental statement about who they are and how they present themselves as part of a greater theme.

The future of so-called “lifestyle centers” will evolve, I believe, in a combined power center and the current Main Street format that is already being developed in some areas of the country.

There is no proven success in the evolution of the lifestyle center. Due to tenant requirements, some centers have modest parking areas in the Main Street and some have no parking because of pedestrian plazas and walkways. There will no doubt be a winner as to what is best and which format evolves.

MulvannyG2 Architecture

Y.E. Smith, President: As growth limits are placed on our communities, retail centers will be built on smaller parcels with higher density. Parking garages will replace surface lots and a great mix of uses will be incorporated. Somewhere in this evolution, architects, developers, and retailers will realize that each new development needs to connect with and complement existing zoning and contexts. The “build it and they will come” strategy may work for baseball fields, but it is losing appeal for shoppers. After dealing with hour-long work commutes, why spend more valuable time driving to shop? A blended or mixed-use direction, as an integrated part of their community, will attract and retain loyal shoppers.

Communication Arts, Inc.

Henry G. Beer, Co-Chairman: There is nothing completely new in the retail world that has sprung fully formed out of nothing. How people interact in a social setting (which is the definition of “shopping”) hasn't changed materially for literally thousands of years. The forces and attributes that have made certain locations and combinations of goods and services successful go back to the first settled communities.

If anything, it will be finer-grain projects composed of anywhere from three to 10 tenants that will incubate new retail ideas. Much of this is below the radar of the conventional large-scale retail developer. The economics of entrepreneurial retail dictate that this is where innovative concepts will be incubated.

Retail developers, in addition to looking overseas, may begin to look with increasing interest at airport retail and resort retail opportunities. The great strength of today's developers is the relationship they have with clusters of tenant types. That key attribute can be leveraged in any situation where a multiplicity of repetitive tenant clusters is desirable. Currently, we see that in airports and to a degree in the resort industry.

Callison Architecture

Stan Laegreid, Principal: The shopping center industry is evolving into many more fragmented models that respond both to the immediacy of the marketplace, as well as the reality of the sector domination of the big box retailers. The answer will come from new retailing concepts that mix offerings and services in unexpected ways. Think of Kinko's combined with Quiznos and Playstations, of resort wear combined with spas, salons and wellness centers, of home furnishings with a Smith and Hawkens gardening center. The shopping center industry can then collect these offerings in physical settings that are convenient, safe and responsive to the shoppers' aspirations. As usual, watching the shopper closely will lead us to the next model for packaging and distributing products and services.

TVS & Associates

J. Thomas Porter, Senior Principal: I'm not sure if there is a clear successor to lifestyle centers. They will continue to morph into mixed-use developments as more successful MXD examples are constructed. The other possible successor to lifestyle centers is the “powertown” center (i.e. Desert Ridge in Scottsdale, Ariz.). But these larger centers have some of the same issues that regional malls had — large-scale developments taking a long time and multiple anchor tenants to deal with.

The other prototype that might be a successor to lifestyle centers is the Open Air Regional Center (i.e. Bowie Town Center in Maryland, Va., Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va.).

The bottom line is that open air/lifestyle centers will rule in 2004.

GSI Architects, Inc.

Noel Cupkovic, Principal: The primary successors to lifestyle centers are mixed-use redevelopment projects. Clearly there seems to be a population shift to the urban core and inner-ring suburbs. In fact, there is probably more initial residential opportunity than retail. However, when measuring future tax benefits of subsidized projects, many municipalities prefer retail components. It's imperative that we get the street-level plane right from a diagrammatical perspective. Once the street level works, the residential planning begins and the opportunity for success is imminent. Right now, we're creating neighborhoods with significant retail components.

Another successor to lifestyle centers are these recycled retail opportunities. Each one is different corresponding to a succinct change in the demographic. Some recycle by re-tenanting; some become more entertainment oriented; others are adapted for alternate uses. One thing is certain: All of these projects will require thorough zoning and planning approval, significant requirements for green space, amenities, hardscape and landscaping. We're all doing things a little differently than we did 15 years ago.

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