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Directing Traffic

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Just because a shopping center is labeled “destination” doesn’t make it big, though it can be. It doesn’t mean it’s anchored by an arena or an amusement park, although that’s also a possibility. And it doesn’t have to be located in Florida or Hawaii—but that doesn’t hurt.

Shopping destinations simply have significant pull, whether for their tenant mix or their amenities or their location. Chain Store Age profiles two such destinations in this issue; both are located in desirable locations—one near Destin, Fla., and the other in Waikiki, Hawaii—and both have tremendous draws, for tourists and residents alike.

Grand Boulevard at Sandestin: Modeled after the town squares that still dot small towns throughout America, Grand Boulevard at Sandestin has a lot going for it—a dynamic lifestyle experience, access to exclusive shopping and dining as well as corporate offices and lodging, a beautiful park, not to mention a coastal location at the entrance to the luxurious, 2,400-acre Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.

Myra Williams, VP of marketing for Miramar Beach, Fla.-based Howard Group, developers of the $250 million lifestyle town-center retail project, said that Grand Boulevard has something else that has secured its slot in the destination genre—and that is a predominantly first-to-market lineup of shopping and dining establishments. “Grand Boulevard is one-of-a-kind in our region,” said Williams. “Northwest Florida simply doesn’t offer this kind of shopping and dining experience anywhere else.” Market debuts include J. Crew at-the-beach, Mitchell’s Fish Market, Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Cafe & Emporium, Coldwater Creek, The Orvis Co., J. Jill, and the region’s first P.F. Chang’s.

Lush landscaping (in fact, said Williams, approximately $4.2 million was spent on a stunning array of more than 50 types of trees and bushes) and Mediterranean-influenced architecture set the town center apart from other venues in the region. As well, “a public green space named Grand Park includes a specially designed fountain, a large lawn and benches,” said Williams.

The primary market for Grand Boulevard is the geographic area between Tallahassee, Fla., and Mobile, Ala., which, said Williams, includes permanent residents, vacationers and secondary homeowners. What’s more, Walton County, where Grand Boulevard at Sandestin is located, has been labeled one of the 100 fastest-growing counties in the United States. “This area is primed and the location is ideal to support an immensely distinctive mixed-use center,” said Williams.

Waikiki Beach Walk: Some 7 million visitors travel to Hawaii each year, giving retail destinations some of the richest pickings from which to establish seasonal customer bases. Populate those retail destinations with entertainment retail and restaurants—and the mix is proving irresistible to tourists and residents alike.

Waikiki Beach Walk is a phoenix of sorts, rising from the ashes of an agingarea between Kalakaua Avenue and Waikiki Beach that was home to hotels, apartment buildings and sub-standard sidewalks and roadways. In April 2005, developer Outrigger Enterprises Group, Honolulu, broke ground on a vibrant and pedestrian-friendly, open-air promenade which fully opened last month. The two-level retail entertainment complex is surrounded by lush landscaping, elaborate water features and lofty glass canopies.

According to Barbara Campbell, VP of retail development and leasing for Outrigger, Waikiki Beach Walk has emerged as a true destination, driven in no small way by dining. “While we largely serve tourists, we do have great appeal for the local residents mostly because of our dining opportunities,” she said. About 60% of Waikiki Beach Walk’s tenants are restaurants, and the variety is unmatched in the area. “We have Italian, Japanese, Yard House with its huge selection of beers, regional cuisine and several new-to-Hawaii restaurants,” continued Campbell. “We put a heavy emphasis on the restaurant offerings.”

Retail runs to small (1,000-sq.-ft. averages), exclusive, locally made and styled merchandise intended to present the best of what Hawaii has to offer in terms of apparel, jewelry, home decor and novelty items. An array of cultural programs, events and live entertainment, including hula and ukulele lessons and a signature Hawaiian Music Heritage Program featuring historical exhibits and a concert series, further underscores Waikiki Beach Walk’s position as an island destination. The design of the center echoes its Hawaiian roots. The plaza fountain at the center of the project honors the Spouting Waters of Waikiki, the glass canopies overhead are in the shape of waves, and columns are surfboard-inspired.

“Waikiki Beach Walk is about the waves, the ocean,” said Campbell. “It’s about Hawaii.”

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Lampert, the Eli Manning of retail?

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. The New York Giants triumph over the highly favored New England Patriots in the Super Bowl earlier this month, has become an example of coming from the bottom to win it all. Sears Holdings chairman Edward Lampert is one of the latest to use the Giants win, even going as far to compare himself, and the leaders of his company, to quarterback Eli Manning.

The Giants analogy, and Eli Manning comparison, is applied mainly to the company’s Kmart division. In a letter to investors, posted on the Sears Holdings investor relations Web site, Lampert said during Kmart’s bankruptcy in 2002, the unit was “like an undrafted free agent who nobody thought had a chance to play in the big leagues.” Lampert went on to say, “Like Eli Manning, we know what it’s like to be underestimated and questioned, but we intend to keep working on our game to achieve our full potential.”

Sears Holdings reported net income of $426 million, or $3.17 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 2, compared with net income of $811 million, or $5.27 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 3, 2007. For the fiscal year ended Feb. 2, 2008, net income was $826 million, or $5.70 per diluted share compared with net income of $1.5 billion, or $9.58 per diluted share, for the fiscal year ended Feb. 3, 2007.

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Circuit City investor seeks to replace board

BY CSA STAFF

RICHMOND, Va. Circuit City Stores today acknowledged that it has received two proposals from shareholder Wattles Capital Management regarding its board of directors. Wattles holds approximately 6.5% of the outstanding shares of the company’s common stock.

Circuit City reported that Wattles proposed the idea of replacing the company’s Circuit City 12-member board of directors with its own nominees. Circuit City said its board of directors will review carefully the shareholder’s proposals and the qualifications of the nominees in accordance with its fiduciary duties, mindful that the proposal would give the shareholder absolute control of the entire board, which would be disproportionate to its relative ownership of the company’s shares.

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