Focus on: America’s Top Redevelopers

Annual survey reflects importance of maintaining existing assets

Cafaro Co.’s redevelopment of Huntington Mall, in Bridgeport, Va., involved the top-to-bottom renovation of an older enclosed mall.

In its eighth year, the annual Top Redevelopers survey continues to underscore the country’s emphasis on refurbishing and repositioning over building anew. Just as in the prior seven years, shopping center owners are concentrating on existing assets — sometimes tweaking, sometimes refreshing, sometimes razing sections and rebuilding. For all, however, the goal is to maximize exposure and returns for all the tenants involved.

Just as last year, the time frame analyzed is mid-year to mid-year — in this case, June 2011 to June 2012 — to garner the most current results possible. Entrants submitted total square footage redeveloped during that one-year period, number of projects tackled and, when available, financial investment for each. As always, Chain Store Age’s judging committee attempted to make the selection process as objective as possible, but that’s not easy. Not enough information is available to formulate a totally foolproof ranking system. Only a handful of developers report financial investments in redeveloped projects, and many tally redevelopment square footage in differing ways.

Of all the entries evaluated, we chose 10 based on number of properties redeveloped, total square footage impacted and significant projects. They are listed alphabetically, because it would be impossible to rank one above the other. This year, we also included two honorable mentions — the significance of the projects warranted the additional coverage.

Brixmor Property Group
New York, N.Y.
In the 12-month period between June 1, 2011, and May 30, 2012, Brixmor Property Group redeveloped 14 properties in nine states and invested about $31 million. Although the largest project tackled was Roosevelt Mall in Philadelphia, the developer counts Sarasota Village, in Sarasota, Fla., as its most significant. The community shopping center featured a successful but outdated Publix, along with Big Lots, Crunch and HomeGoods. A new 46,000-sq.-ft. prototypical and state-of-the-art Publix was constructed to replace the existing 37,000-sq.-ft. footprint, and Brixmor made additional renovations to the shopping center to make it a vibrant part of the community.

Cafaro Co.
Youngstown, Ohio
Cafaro’s 2 million-plus sq. ft. of redevelopments was comprised of two major projects: Kentucky Oaks Mall, in Paducah, Ky., and Huntington Mall, in Bridgeport, Va. Both involved top-to-bottom renovation of older enclosed shopping malls, including flooring replacement and updating of plumbing and roof surfaces. Cafaro installed new entrances to both malls, updated the HVAC and lighting systems to energy-efficient iterations, added skylights, soft seating, indoor landscaping and family restrooms, as well as created entirely new signage packages for the centers. The redevelopment of Kentucky Oaks affected about 845,000 sq. ft. of its 1.3 million sq. ft.; of Huntington Mall’s 1.5 million sq. ft., 1.2 million was redeveloped.            

CBL & Associates Properties
Chattanooga, Tenn.
CBL by far redeveloped the most total square footage of this year’s Top 10 Redevelopers; its 5.7 million sq. ft. of redevelopment comprised eight projects in six states. But it counts as its most significant the renovation of the flagship Hamilton Place Mall, in its home base of Chattanooga, Tenn. The complex features a 1.1 million-sq.-ft. regional mall, several associated community and power centers, and an abundance of restaurants on 202 acres. A multimillion-dollar transformation incorporated updated entrances, new interior decor, tile flooring, new restrooms, a modern graphics package and a number of energy-saving elements.

Donahue Schriber
Costa Mesa, Calif.
Donahue Schriber’s sole redevelopment project in the 2011-to-2012-time period is also significant. The company completed a $20 million renovation of its 278,000-sq.-ft. Del Mar Highlands Town Center in San Diego, elevating an already successful community shopping and entertainment center to an entirely new level. What Donahue Schriber termed a “Re-Imagining” process entailed bringing in fresh concepts, such as Top Chef alumnus Brian Malarkey’s acclaimed Burlap restaurant. It also involved debuting the county’s first luxury movie theater, Cinepolis, and elevating the center’s amenities and overall customer service offerings. Post re-imagining, sales have increased to well over $700 per square foot, and NOI has increased by more than 30%. Total center occupancy is at 100%.

Columbia, S.C.
EDENS invested $67.2 million on redeveloping eight projects during the 2011-to-2012-time period, but none are more important than its redevelopment of Middlesex Commons, located in Burlington, Mass. For Middlesex Commons, a dominant but underperforming grocery-anchored center in the Boston MSA, EDENS envisioned a return of the 40-year-old shopping institution to a central point of interaction for the neighborhood. Two anchor vacancies provided the right opportunity to redevelop the center toward maximizing its potential. A high-performing Market Basket was relocated into a larger space, the center’s entrance was reconfigured to accommodate outward-facing storefronts, and EDENS employed a variety of techniques to create the desired atmosphere and community engagement.

Kimco Realty Co.
New Hyde Park, N.Y.
A perennial player on Chain Store Age’s Top Redevelopers list, Kimco tackled eight projects in the survey time frame, spending close to $70 million on such projects as the renovation of an entire half-million-sq.-ft. shopping center — Factoria — in Bellevue, Wash. The company, however, points to Elsmere, Del., for its most significant project, as it involved demolishing an existing Value City department store and building a new 85,000-sq.-ft. BJ’s Wholesale Club, along with a new Fuel Island Facility. The area, Kimco said, makes the redevelopment especially noteworthy, as New Castle County offers a strong demographic and heavily populated main retail corridor to the state of Delaware.

Phillips Edison & Co.
Of its 27 redevelopment projects in 2011/2012, Phillips Edison highlights Currier Square, in Oroville, Calif., which the company acquired in 2006. At the time, there were two tenants in a 44,000-sq.-ft. box adjacent to Raley’s: a Chinese buffet that would not be renewed at lease expiration, and a 6,500-sq.-ft. Salvation Army location that ultimately relocated to a larger space across the street. Responding to research data that showed apparel, shoes and jewelry shoppers heading out of town for purchases, Phillips Edison convinced TJX Cos. to bring Marshall’s to the center with a 25,000-sq.-ft. store. Petco followed with a 10,000-sq.-ft. store that opened Oct. 8, and the center went from 55% leased to more than 85% leased in just 12 months.

Regency Centers
Jacksonville, Fla.
Another perennial player on our Top Redevelopers list, Regency invested $24.9 million on six redevelopment projects during the survey time frame, none more important than the work it did on Heritage Plaza, a 230,000-sq.-ft. neighborhood center in Irvine, Calif., anchored by Ralphs and acquired by Regency in 1999. Market research, underscored by focus group findings, uncovered a lack of retail options for the Asian demographic, which had grown from 8% to 45% of the total population since the center’s inception in 1981. Regency answered with more Asian-centric concepts such as Daiso, a value variety store, and Japanese supermarket Mitsuwa Marketplace. In addition, Regency improved sight lines and added natural façade finishes, new wayfinding signage, wider pedestrian walkways, gathering places and sidewalk eating areas.

Simon Property Group
Simon showed its redevelopment muscle by revamping 33 projects in 18 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and Japan. The company said its Fashion Valley renovation in San Diego is its most significant, in that the property is the most prestigious retail address in San Diego County, featuring 200 stores and restaurants including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, The Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang’s. The renovation, said Simon, took Fashion Valley to an even higher level.

Los Angeles
Westfield has ranked among Chain Store Age’s Top Redevelopers every year, and this year the shopping center owner renovated Westfield West Covina (Calif.), Westfield Great Northern (N. Olmsted, Ohio), Westfield Fashion Square (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) and Westfield Vancouver (Wash.) — to the tune of $108 million. For Westfield Vancouver, it invested $60 million on the only enclosed shopping center serving southwest Washington State. An extensive redevelopment added a state-of-the-art Cinetopia theater, and the company completed a full-center renovation, remodel and remerchandising of the space formerly occupied by Mervyn’s to include the types of fashion-forward retailers and more sophisticated cuisine offerings long requested by local residents. Brands open now or coming soon include Ann Taylor Loft, Aveda, Aldo, Express, Forever 21, G by Guess and White House | Black Market.

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