Retail Traffic

Technology EDGE: News Wired

Irving, Texas - BigFatWow!, Inc., recently announced plans to provide free high-speed Internet access in areas of public convenience in 100 shopping malls across the country during the year 2000.

The Internet centers, called Wow Centers, mainly will be installed in regional malls, including Westcor Partners' Paradise Valley Mall in Phoenix and 16 malls owned by The Pyramid Cos., which recently became a client of BigFatWow!

The Wow Centers enable consumers to check existing Internet e-mail accounts or sign-up for new e-mail and Internet services. For a more personalized experience, mall shoppers can enter demographic data and preference information, which malls can then use to help target sales and promotions campaigns.

In addition to the Internet centers, BigFatWow! ( will also provide professional Internet consulting and development services to lend support to owners, developers and tenants of large regional shopping malls.

"We will provide an easy-to-use interface that is helpful to the novice user and Internet veteran alike," explains Fred McCallister, president of BigFatWow! "We believe this will be a useful amenity for the shopper, providing a welcome form of entertainment and information."

The Internet centers are designed to help mall owners build loyalty among their customer base while simultaneously supporting the sales and marketing efforts of retail tenants. McCallister notes that the shopping mall industry is grossly under-served in the area of Internet consulting and web development. BigFatWow's Internet consultants have worked at leading technology-related firms, including, EDS, IBM and Sprint and will offer that experience to the shopping center industry, he says.

Chicago - General Growth Properties' customized leasing program, called Portfolio Review, began in 1996 with one full-time and two part-time employees. But thanks in part to an efficient technology-intensive approach, the program has nearly doubled in size with seven full-time employees, GGP recently announced.

The Portfolio Review process begins with the retailer providing GGP with specific information on retail space needs. GGP then determines which of its properties offer the opportunities sought by the retailer and provides mall lease plans, space dimensions and pictures via CD-ROM.

Because extensive analysis and preparation precedes the Portfolio Review, meetings focus on deal-making rather than on exchanging information. "Numerous successful deals have been made because of this efficient process. Our retailers have told us that this is the most productive use of their time and their preferred way to discuss and negotiate leases," notes GGP spokesman David Keating. "Portfolio Reviews can run from one to two days and culminate in the execution of 40 or more new leases."

In the past, reviewers would meet with clients, take notes during the meeting by hand, then type them out later for a formal presentation, which would be filed away for future use. Now, reviewers type notes directly into a database, to which all parties involved in the deal process have instant access. "A Portfolio Review facilitates the deal-making process and attracts retailers' attention on the better malls first," Keating says. "It pushes properties that might otherwise go ignored."

Carlsbad, Calif. - Billing itself as the first tenant-centered business services provider in commercial real estate, PhatPipe, Inc., recently unveiled its business model at the Technology + Real Estate Conference in Los Angeles. PhatPipe provides an array of technologies, products and services designed to turn landlords into valued business partners to their tenants bases of small- and medium-sized businesses. The offerings include an advanced communications infrastructure, energy services and a money-saving e-marketplace. They're designed to lower the cost of operations for tenants by up to 40%, while enabling owners to improve overall profitability, PhatPipe announced. The company has signed agreements with REITs CenterPoint Properties Trust, EastGroup Properties and others, representing access to more than 200 million sq. ft.

PhatPipe works with owners to provide tenants with broadband Internet access, network services, computer equipment, office furniture and other products and services at lower cost.

"As the Internet continues to revolutionize the world of business, many of today's small- and medium-sized companies are focusing more on their virtual needs than their physical needs," notes founder David Robinson. "For the first time, PhatPipe is making it possible for commercial real estate owners to meet the demand for both floor space and cyberspace. The new revenue streams generated by our offering may even give a landlord the flexibility to lower rent while still increasing bottom-line profitability."

Toronto - TrizecHahn recently committed to an initial equity investment of $160 million for an international business venture designed to build a global network of telecom operations. Capitalizing on the explosive growth in the telecom sector, TrizecHahn and Chelsfield Plc., the London-based property company, acquired a two-thirds interest in Global Switch International Ltd., a European telecom operation that is in the midst of a major expansion.

London-based Global Switch provides facilities management to high technology customer s, including fiber carriers, telecom companies, Internet service providers and application service providers. The involvement of TrizecHahn and Chelsfield will enable Global Switch to extend its United Kingdom and European presence, TrizecHahn announced.

TrizecHahn, which owns and operates Canada's premiere telecom hub at 151 Front St. in Toronto, recently announced plans to sell the majority of its Canadian office portfolio for approximately $700 million of net proceeds. TrizecHahn intends to re-purchase $500 million of its assets and to invest approximately $200 million in technology initiatives related to commercial real estate. TrizecHahn also announced plans to raise addition money by selling non-core U.S. assets this year.Scottsdale, Ariz. - MicroTouch Systems, Inc ., recently teamed with First Wave, Inc., to produce touch-enabled in-store kiosks designed to bring e-commerce into the retail environment.

Methuen, Mass.-based MicroTouch specializes in touch-screen technology, while Scottsdale-based First Wave focuses on producing multimedia interactive kiosks. The multimedia displays are powered by First Wave software. They feature an iMac with an antibacterial touchscreen designed by MicroTouch that offers high durability against physical abuse, dirt, liquids and other contaminants, as well as protection against scratches and vandalism "The kiosks help create an interactive retail experience that cannot be duplicated by an Internet-only merchant or within a traditional store environment, " says John Glitsos, First Wave CEO.

New York City - Atwood Richards, the largest multilateral barter trade company in the world, promotes barter as a profitable alternative to liquidation and a way to gain access to new markets. In the past five years, for example, Atwood has traded $200 million worth of apparel, food, sports-related products and other goods in Eastern Europe.

Now, Atwood's corporate clients are using the company's website,, to engage in corporate barter for goods and services such as commercial real estate, capital equipment, group hotel space, packaging, food, wood, coal, glass, fertilizer, corporate jets, printing services, industrial roofing and other products. "This is not eBay or trade association barter or counter-trade," notes chairman Mort Binn. "We practice multilateral trading and our clients can select from the most diverse inventory available."

Founded in 1958, half of Atwood Richards' system of multilateral trade is an asset-recovery strategy designed to successfully increase corporations' cash flow, produce incremental sales and open new markets.

Bethesda, Md. -, a retail-only real estate listing and information database, recently hired former top Jones Lang LaSalle executive Andrew Nadler as national sales director.

Nadler served as vice president of leasing and management for Jones Lang LaSalle, the largest real estate management and leasing firm in the world. In that role, Nadler managed a department of 15 people and a portfolio of more than 2 million sq. ft. of institutional property. lists retail properties in 34 states and plans to expand into all 50 states by the end of 2000. Combined, the six Storetrax managers have 85 years' experience in commercial real estate.

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