It is no secret that there is a significant paradigm shift underway in the world of regional retail development. While it continues to be business as usual for some brick-and-mortar retail sectors, a major transformation continues to unfold across America’s regional retail landscape. When we take a closer look at the underlying fundamentals, we can yield some important insights about what is causing these changes, where regional malls are headed, and what developers must do to not only survive, but thrive in this new environment.Many regional enclosed malls are already dead, and hundreds more are dying slow deaths. At the same time, more and more open-air mixed-use retail environments are emerging — some of which are regional in nature, and all of which are competing directly with those enclosed regional malls. The best of these new projects have common characteristics: a significant portion of their public space is outdoors; non-retail leisure time components are a large component of the tenant mix; and non-retail uses like residential, office and hospitality are fully integrated into the design.
The highly publicized mixed-use project Liberty Center in Ohio has just announced its first slate of retail tenants. With a scheduled October 2015 opening, Liberty Center includes more than 800,000 sq. ft. of retail, restaurants and entertainment, including a 200,000-sq.-ft. Dillard’s anchor that will be the state of Ohio’s first ground-up Dillard’s store. The 64-acre, 1.2 million-sq.-ft. destination, co-developed by Steiner + Associates and Bucksbaum Retail Properties, will feature over 50 new tenants. “We are very excited to be formally announcing this first group of great tenants,” said Anne Mastin, executive VP of retail real estate for Steiner + Associates. “These retailers, restaurants and entertainment uses, many of which are regional and state firsts, are among the best in the industry and represent just the beginning of the full lineup you can expect to see when Liberty Center opens in October. We will be making several other significant announcements in the weeks and months to come.”
L.L. Bean Inc. is opening a new store in Columbus, and the retailer will give the market a months-long sneak peek in the run-up to the real thing. The Freeport, Maine-based outdoor retailer Wednesday said it will open a 20,600- square-foot store at Easton town Center by October or November in a standalone building currently home to the Container Store. That store is moving to a new space this year in the nearby Easton Gateway shopping center.
Steiner & Associates, an old hand in the mixed-use construction game, is lead developerin a live-work-play enterprise in Cincinnati called Liberty Center, to be co-developed by Bucksbaum Retail Properties. This will feature about 250 upscale vertical residences in the phased 1.1 million-square-foot urban development rising along Interstate 75 and slated to make its debut this year.
Easton Gateway will add 13 tenants to its lineup in the coming months, with some moving over from nearby Easton Town Center. With the additions, Easton Gateway is moving rapidly toward filling its 54-acre site.“We expect by the end of the year we will fill all the space,” said Beau Arnason, executive vice president at Easton operator Steiner + Associates. “There are probably a handful (of spaces) in the 12,000- to 15,000-square-foot size — medium box size — that are still available, but not a lot."