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Powering Up Retail

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Alliance Town Center, a near-3 million-sq.-ft. hybrid development under way...
Village at Stone Oak, in San Antonio, combines Main Street...

Further boosting the strength of power centers in the shopping center development sector is a surging interest in adding amenities and square footage to an already powerful retail play. The result is something more than a power center—call it a power town.

As always, capturing one uniformly accepted definition of “power town” wasn’t possible, but suffice it to say that if nothing else, it’s BIG. A power town will measure 600,000 sq. ft. to 1 million-plus sq. ft. in size, and will feature expanded components beyond big-box retail anchors. Some incorporate lifestyle wings into the fray, others build in a mix of uses such as residential or office, and some add a significant entertainment or hospitality element. These power towns are intended to draw large crowds from an expanded distance, and shopping center developers will employ components and amenities designed to do just that.

After exploring a host of sizeable power centers and amenity-rich power-town developments, Chain Store Age is spotlighting three projects on these pages. The trio of centers ranges in size from 635,000 sq. ft. to an astonishing 3 million sq. ft. Components vary based on the markets, but all contain a core base of big-box power retailers, including Target, The Home Depot, Best Buy and Kohl’s.

Alliance Town Center: There’s a reason that Sidney, Neb.-based retail powerhouse Cabela’s chose Alliance for its first Dallas/Fort Worth store; the 17,000-acre master-planned community consists of Fort Worth Alliance Airport, heavy industrial development, 800 acres of corporate campuses, dense residential—and now a mixed-use power town featuring power, community and lifestyle retail, hospital, office, hotel and residential. The 300-acre Alliance Town Center will ultimately be home to about a 1.35 million-sq.-ft. power center/town center, plus an additional retail component anchored by Belk and J.C. Penney. What’s more, it will be green.

Developed by Fort Worth-based Trademark Property Group, Alliance Town Center is just one of an entire portfolio of properties that Trademark has earmarked for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. In fact, Trademark is one of the first retail mixed-use developers committed to pursuing LEED certification for its entire pipeline.

According to Terry Montesi, CEO of Trademark, environmentally responsible development isn’t Alliance Town Center’s only attribute. “If you describe power towns as power-center retail ‘plus-plus-plus,’ then Alliance Town Center is probably the biggest ‘plus’ project in the country,” Montesi said. “We call it a hybrid development—part power center, part community center, part entertainment center, plus lifestyle/ mixed-use town center.” The lifestyle/mixed-use town-center component will feature more than 250,000 sq. ft. of lifestyle, plus residential above retail, office above retail and hotel above retail.

What retailers are finding at powerful developments like Alliance Town Center are, described Montesi, “critical mass and diversity. What that means, specifically, is that Alliance will offer its tenants more than 1.7 million sq. ft. of retail, plus all of the other components,” he said.

The Village at Stone Oak: Whether you call it a lifestyle center with a power-center bent, or a power center intertwined with lifestyle, The Village at Stone Oak in San Antonio is a 635,000-sq.-ft. development that uses both power-center tenants and lifestyle retailers to create a one-stop shopping environment for area consumers. Developed by Cleveland-based Developers Diversified Realty, The Village at Stone Oak is located at the intersection of Highway 281 and Stone Oak Parkway in the residential community of Stone Oak, 13 minutes from downtown San Antonio.

Big-box heavyweight SuperTarget is joined by Hobby Lobby, T.J. Maxx, Cost Plus World Market and DSW, as well as a variety of lifestyle tenants and restaurants. According to Wayne Marks, lifestyle leasing manager for Developers Diversified, it is this mix of tenants that makes Village at Stone Oak a bona fide power town.

“A power town is a hybrid center, a mix of big-box stores and lifestyle stores,” Marks said. “We have a tremendous tenant mix at Village at Stone Oak, which provides superior selection and convenience for consumers.” Besides the big-box anchors, lifestyle tenants Ann Taylor Loft, Coldwater Creek, Chico’s, J. Jill, Jos. A. Bank and Hollister form a Main Street attraction for the center.

For all their attributes, power towns aren’t without obstacles. “It was challenging to configure the center so that traffic flow between the lifestyle tenants and power-center tenants is cohesive,” said Marks. “Also, some tenants will opt for space in lifestyle centers and larger community centers with discount stores. Deciding where they best fit in a hybrid center—when they are a natural fit for both formats—was challenging.”

The Village at Stone Oak began opening in phases in 2007 and will continue its openings in 2008.

Prairie Center: Since the idea of a power-town format took hold a half-decade or so ago, the concept of a power center-plus has become as common to developers, retailers and end-users as its smaller, stripped-down sister center. But Prairie Center takes power towns to an entirely different dimension. Programmed to host up to 3 million sq. ft. of retail—most of it in a series of power centers—Prairie Center in Brighton, Denver, is being developed by St. Louis-based THF Realty. The $500 million, 1,984-acre development will include up to 4,500 homes, condominiums and apartments, as well as a medical-office component. The entire project is slated for completion around 2020.

Phase I of Prairie Center is a power town unto itself. Already under way, with a total of 535,000 sq. ft. of retail in place, the first phase is comprised of a 950,000-sq.-ft. power center anchored by The Home Depot, SuperTarget and Kohl’s. Other tenants include PetSmart, Office Depot, Dollar Tree and Dick’s Sporting Goods. A pedestrian-oriented component called the Village Area includes 65,000 sq. ft. of specialty shops.

Phase II will add another 275,000-sq.-ft. power center to the development anchored by J.C. Penney, which is slated to open in fall 2008.

Just as Village at Stone Oak faced development challenges, so too did Prairie Center—albeit an unusual one. Given Colorado’s abundant wildlife populations, and the need to protect them, THF Realty worked with wildlife specialists to create a 160-acre Regional Wildlife Sanctuary on the site to protect the bald eagle population, as well as other wildlife.

© 2014