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Hofbrauhaus underway at Grandview Yard

BY Michael Fickes

An 18,000-sq.-ft. Hofbrauhaus restaurant has broken ground at Grandview Yard in Grandview Heights, Ohio, according to Nationwide Realty Investors, the developer of the $500 million mixed-use project. Hofbrauhaus Columbus will resemble the legendary 420-year-old Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany. The restaurant will include a large bier hall for live entertainment, an old world German-style dining room and an outdoor bier garden.

The groundbreaking marks the beginning of the next phase of the 100-acre project, which recently received the Grandview Heights Planning Commission’s approval to move forward.

In addition to the new Hofbrauhaus, this phase of the project will include a 75,000-sq.-ft., three-story office building above a two-story 505 space parking deck.

Phase one of the project, which opened in the fall of 2010, included a 126-room Hyatt Place Hotel that has significantly exceeded occupancy expectations, a 42,000-sq.-ft. LA Fitness and a Buckeye Hall of Fame Grill restaurant. A Giant Eagle grocery store is slated to open in the summer of 2014. The Giant Eagle site will contain adjacent outparcels.

A 92,000-sq.-ft. Class A office building provides first floor space for restaurants and retail.

Located minutes from downtown Columbus, the Arena District and Ohio State University, Grandview Yard will eventually encompass more than 1.5-million- to 2-million-sq. ft. of retail stores and restaurants, office and more than 600 apartments and condominium-style residences.

New community parks and significant infrastructure improvements are also included in the master plan.

The master plan for the retail portion of the project includes a target of approximately 300,000-sq.-ft. of retail-dominated mixed-use, including anchors, specialty retailers and restaurants.


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Sony launching streaming PlayStation service

BY CSA STAFF

Gamers will be heading to the cloud this summer when Sony Computer Entertainment marks the U.S. debut of its streaming game service branded as PlayStation Now.

Plans call for PlayStation Now, dubbed PS Now, to deliver a variety of popular PlayStation 3 game titles on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 systems followed by the PlayStation Vita systems. In addition to PlayStation platforms, most 2014 U.S. models of Sony’s Bravia brand televisions will support PS Now. Eventually, plans call for the service to expand beyond PlayStation platforms and Sony devices, allowing users to stream PlayStation games on numerous other Internet-connected devices, according to the company.

"We are thrilled to deliver entertainment experiences only possible from PlayStation through our new streaming game service," said Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. "PS Now will allow users to engage in the world of PlayStation, whether they’re existing fans or have never owned a PlayStation platform."

The company’s vision, shared with those who attended the CES in Las Vegas is to enable users to instantly enjoy a wide range of full games on the Internet-connected consumer electronics devices they use every day. The accessibility of PS Now means, for example, that PS4 users in the living room can continue playing a game on a PS3 system in their bedroom. Or PS Vita users can enjoy instant access to a game wherever there’s Wi-Fi connectivity, such as outdoors, then can switch to a supporting Bravia TV’s big screen and play the same game after arriving home.

According to the company, PS Now will offer choice to gamers with how they want to access content. Gamers can rent by title for specific games they are interested in, or they can choose a subscription that delivers additional value with the ability to explore and play many games available across a wide variety of genres.

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New Year Solutions

BY Michael Fickes

Technology trends are rippling through the retail real estate universe. Among the most important are new apps that dig deeply into data and automate tasks such as site selection, identifying and diagnosing underperforming stores and much more. Then there are apps that analyze what is going on inside shopping centers and stores. Technology is also helping to address a major change in lease accounting rules.

Trend #1

How we use technology is changing

The emerging generation of real estate technology is transforming the way we use technology.

“Over the last half-dozen years, the iPhone has revolutionized technology,” said Simon Thompson, director of commercial solutions with Redlands, Calif.-based Esri. “Before the iPhone, we used the phone to talk, computers for email and managing photos, paper maps for directions, and we had separate GPS devices. The iPhone synthesized all of this and more on one device and a couple dozen apps.”

The iPhone innovation hides the complexity of technology behind simple, intuitive apps. Real estate technology providers are emulating the simplicity of smartphone apps.

For example, an Esri app called Business Analyst Online can help analyze sites out in the field. Just open the app, set up a 5-mile circle and run the app. It will cycle through Esri’s 7,000 variables and show you how much the prospective customers inside the circle spend on lunch or apparel or toys or whatever you’re selling.

“And it is instant,” Thompson continued. “I can get the information, and email a link back to my office, asking my real estate director to check this out and give me his opinion.

“We used to focus on collecting the data, and that took so long that you didn’t have time to evaluate the data properly. Today we can focus all of our time on making the decision.”

Trend #2

Small data

While the software industry has been promoting big data applications for quite a while, some providers have adopted a different point of view. “Everyone talks about big data, but big data by itself is worthless,” said Bill Stinneford, senior VP in charge of client management with Fort Worth, Texas-based Buxton. “What’s important is processing data to find big answers.

“We build real estate answers by processing data about customers. The data is in the cloud. Clients process the data through Buxton’s SCOUT from their desktops and now from their tablets and smartphones through SCOUT Touch — an app with 18 icons.”

Each icon processes data about customers in a specific way, and there is no learning curve. If you have a question, just ask an app.

Suppose, for instance, that you are driving to a meeting and happen upon a shopping center you like. Pull over and tap the “Score Site” icon in SCOUT Touch. The app will run an analysis using your data in the cloud, and get right back to you with a revenue forecast and cannibalization report on the site.

SCOUT Touch isn’t just for the real estate group. “A district manager might show the manager of a poorly performing store that the location isn’t at fault,” said Stinneford. “Pull up a map showing drive times, existing and potential customers and revenue potential. The solution? More aggressive marketing.”

Trend #3

Indoor location services

Mall owners and retailers want to know where customers go and what they do. If a mall owner can identify the busiest corridors in the center, rents and signage rates can rise for the premium space. Retailers want to know what departments in the store — and chain — are converting sales or not. Did a promotion drive traffic to the right products? Are displays and signs working?

Yorba Linda, Calif.-based iInside (pronounced eye-inside) uses technology to answer these questions. “We use the public Wi-Fi system to count the people using handheld devices in a mall or store,” said Jon Rosen, executive VP with iInside. “That produces a sample that enables us to analyze traffic patterns.

“To count people in stores, in lines at cash registers, the number of people that go first to merchandise that has been advertised and carry out other in-store analytics, we add hardware in the store — small Wi-Fi or Bluetooth sensors.

“We can tell retailers where people are in the center. We can measure the draw rate — the percentage of passers-by that come into the store. That enables them to measure how signage changes affect store traffic.”

Rosen also noted that iInside adheres to privacy standards issued by a privacy consortium. The technology locates and counts devices. There is no listening in or privacy intrusions of any kind.

Trend #4

Prepping for the FASB challenge

Are you ready for the new lease accounting rule? The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) plans to issue a final rule soon. The new rule will transform operating leases from expenses into assets and require a major accounting change.

Retailers and shopping center owners should get started now. According to “50 FASB-Focused Fields You Can’t Do Without,” a white paper from Atlanta-based Virtual Premise, the new standard will require lessors and lessees alike to redo financial statements for several years before the effective date of the standard.

“The new rule will change the process of managing lease data,” said Andy Thomas, president of Virtual Premise. “There will be new data to collect.”

According to the Virtual Premise white paper, there will be 50 new data fields to complete. Virtual Premise has readied its cloud-based real estate information management software to accept the new data.

There will also be extensive calculations, Thomas said. The process will have to withstand the scrutiny of GAP accounting and auditors. Technology will be fundamental to that.

“This kind of major rule change will shine a light on areas that you have fallen behind on,” Thomas continued. “We’re seeing forward-thinking companies preparing for the rule by implementing technology to gain control of their lease data. That will be key to compliance.”

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