Great things sometimes happen in unexpected places.
Take Easton Town Center, for example. Despite its Columbus, Ohio, setting, the 1.7-million-sq.-ft. open-air project has, since its opening in 1999, set the standard for town-center development in some of the country’s premier markets. Co-developed by Columbus, Ohio-based Steiner + Associates and The Georgetown Co., New York City, Easton Town Center earned the International Council of Shopping Centers’ “Most Innovative Design” award in 2000. It features amenities that have come to be expected from open-air lifestyle projects—pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, fountains, gathering spaces, play areas, parks—but what isn’t so expected is Easton’s almost uncanny connection with Ohio shoppers.
“If you don’t provide your customers with what they want, they will go somewhere else,” said Yaromir Steiner, CEO, Steiner + Associates. What Ohio customers want, said Steiner, is a high-end shopping destination. “Easton has become not just a Columbus destination, but one for the Cleveland region, the Cincinnati region and even many of the smaller towns in Ohio,” said Steiner.
What those shoppers find when they shop Easton is a wide range of retail offerings, most skewing toward the higher end. And that is by design. “We are trying to capture the leakage of dollars that would go to New York or Chicago or Los Angeles,” said Steiner. “We are identifying the categories we feel shoppers want or need, and then we seek out those retailers to fill those wants and needs.” Such as Tiffany & Co.
In mid-February, internationally renowned jeweler Tiffany announced it would open a store at Easton in November 2008. The fact that such a celebrated, high-end brand would choose Columbus, Ohio, as a site for a new store came as a surprise to some, but not to Steiner. “They were amazed by the caliber of the environment in which people lived and worked and shopped here,” he said. Beth Canavan, executive VP of New York City-based Tiffany & Co., said, “Easton Town Center is the most desirable location in this region for a Tiffany & Co. store.”
Tiffany will open a 6,200-sq.-ft. space in a premier Easton site at the corner of New Bond Street and The Strand. It will sit immediately adjacent to a much-publicized expansion of Henri Bendel; the Easton Bendel store is the only location in existence outside of its Fifth Avenue flagship in New York City. For its Easton redevelopment, Henri Bendel closed shop on Feb. 2 and will reopen this fall with a larger store that showcases a new look and expanded merchandise assortment.
The expansion of Henri Bendel and the addition of Tiffany & Co. stand as testament that a status symbol is never static. Easton Town Center, with all of its success over the past decade, continues to evolve.
“Our goal always is to be perceived as the higher-end shopping destination for retail, providing the most current merchandise in the marketplace,” said Steiner. “That’s a continuing battle.”