Retail Traffic

A conversation with Nate Fishkin of Federal Realty Investment Trust

Among other duties, Nate Fishkin oversees the identification, planning and development of Main Street-style projects for Rockville, Md.-based Federal Realty Investment Trust. Fishkin, who is passionate about the trend, talked with SCW about Federal Realty's Santana Row. The ambitious 40-acre Main Street development, which now under construction in San Jose, Calif., is slated to open in 2002.

SCW: With Santana Row, you'll be designing an urban village from the ground up. What are some of challenges there, some of the goals?

Fishkin: The most difficult challenge is making the street appear as if it developed organically. We have worked hard to create structures that are diverse in style. We're also using materials that will patina quickly to create the image of an established block.

There will be a mix of residential, service, retail and entertainment tenants. In fact, we have 12,000 residential units planned, and the residential component will be a mix of townhouses, lofts, apartments and luxury apartments. The retailers will be more like those you would find in street stores rather than those in shopping malls.

Santana Row will have a real local flavor - boutique- and gallery-type shops, along with a wide variety of cafes, restaurants and bars. There will be some national retailers as well, but over all it will have a very local feel. The entertainment aspect of the development is more complex. We'll have a movie theater and perhaps other traditional entertainment tenants. However, the real entertainment will be the development itself. It will be a place where people can come and walk around to experience the community, a place where people come to see and be seen. There will be several open areas with parks, fountains, play structures for children, and things like that to create what is a culture rather than simply an entertainment venue.

SCW: How large will Santana Row be once it is completed?

Fishkin: It will be 575,000 sq. ft. of retail space along with the 12,000 residential units. The whole development will cover 40 acres. We studied many of the famous streets in the world from Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles to the Magnificent Mile in Chicago and 5th Avenue in New York City. There are elements of them all included in the planning and design.

SCW: What brought you to this particular site in San Jose?

Fishkin: That was the easiest part of the whole process, a no-brainer. First of all this location is beautiful. It is also very strong demographically, being in the middle of Silicon Valley. About 100,000 of the households within a 10-mile radius have incomes exceeding $100,000 per year and those incomes are steadily rising. Santa Clara County itself is first among counties in California in retail sales per household. Sales per household are projected to increase 21% by 2002 alone. This location is also close enough to San Francisco, Carmel, Monterey, and other cities that people will travel to for shopping and to experience a unique atmosphere.

SCW: Are there mixed-use developments built by other developers that you were able to look to for ideas or inspiration?

Fishkin: There are certainly a good many developments that have combined shopping and living spaces, and there is a general trend away from malls and back to street shops like the old downtowns used to be. However, I do not know of another development company undertaking large projects like Santana Row from the ground up.

SCW: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Fishkin: I am completely passionate about the ideas behind these developments. It is important to have living, working, and playing spaces that promote a culture of community rather than simply a culture of convenience. I have found that people want this as well. They are tired of seeing a strip mall built on every corner. There is still a place for shopping malls of course, but there is also a need for places where people can enjoy themselves with their neighbors.

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