LEED-Certified Shopping Center to Open in Florida
Coconut Creek, Fla. The Promenade at Coconut Creek, the largest mixed-use lifestyle center in Northern Broward County, Fla., is opening on Nov. 1. Developed by Columbus, Ohio-based Stanbery Development, the center is one of the first major developments in the southeastern United States to win Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.
Phase 1 of Promenade is complete, with a total of 196,000 sq. ft. of retail and 50,000 sq. ft. of office space. A second phase, with an additional 105,000 sq. ft. of retail and office, is scheduled for completion in 2009. Among the approximately 75 retailers and restaurants are Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, Chico’s, Talbot’s, Coldwater Creek, Jos. A Bank and Sunglass Hut, as well as Saito’s Japanese Steakhouse, Fish City Grill, Lime Fresh Mexican Grill and Starbucks.
Coconut Creek’s Main Street plan, winner of an award of excellence from the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association, offers a hybrid approach to a completely pedestrian-oriented urban district and a vehicular-dominant suburban shopping center. The Promenade’s design encourages interaction between pedestrian and vehicular movement within itself, as well as with future developments, through efficient use of land resources and compact growth.
The center design includes courtyards, plazas and breezeways to provide natural air flow and serve as activity nodes and gathering places. The locations of parking garages and lots minimize walking distances between vehicles and destinations. Among the sustainable design strategies are storm-water management; use of indigenous plant materials; smart irrigation; preferred parking for energy-efficient and low-emission vehicles; alternative transportation; and energy-efficient architecture.
Designs of the Times
Aesthetics in mixed-use projects are important, no question. But even more significant are the collaboration of the various teams involved and the strategic coordination of construction and design details.
For instance, placing residential above retail comes with a myriad of headaches. While the final product is one that is highly desirable to both shoppers and shopkeepers, getting there is no easy path. Imagine a plumbing leak in a second-story luxury condo that drips water onto the Barnes & Noble below—for a mixed-use project to work, developers must proactively plan for every possible problem in order to enjoy the success of this celebrated format.
Chain Store Age talked with four real estate developers to get a complete picture of the challenges, and rewards, of designing and building mixed-use developments.
Combining the new with the old: Perhaps the biggest challenge facing Jacksonville, Fla.-based Regency Centers in its mixed-use addition to one of America’s oldest and most heralded planned shopping centers has been the project’s storied history and heritage. Cameron Village in Raleigh, N.C., was built in the late 1940s as a master-planned community with significant, and eclectic, retail, and was acquired by Regency in 2003.
This year, Regency announced plans for a 2.7-acre mixed-use redevelopment project with Charlotte, N.C.-based Crescent Resources LLC to build about 250 mulit-family units and 28,000 sq. ft. of ground-floor retail. Regency carved out the 2.7 acres from the 30-acre, six-block village, will sell it to Crescent, and is buying back the retail and associated parking while still maintaining a close involvement in the creation of the project as a whole.
This is where design becomes most weighty. “Cameron Village is very much a neighborhood, and as such it has an architectural ‘Cameronesque’ look,” explained John Pharr, senior VP of leasing for Regency. “The storefronts and facades throughout the village are quite eclectic and the community itself is part of the fabric of Raleigh. That is why it is so important—to us and, of course, to Cameron Village—to create a strong connection between the existing village and the new mixed-use addition.”
A direct pedestrian connection is planned as part of the redevelopment, tying the mixed-use project with the interior of Cameron Village. Visually, “We are not trying to ‘rough up’ the architecture and make it appear aged, but it must be a complement to the rest of the village,” said Pharr. “The new project must be a complement in terms of the amenities, the walkability, sight lines and, of course, the retail, which must achieve the same level of quality and uniqueness with the existing merchants.”
Place-making: In the emergence of lifestyle centers as a dominant shopping center format, the idea of “place-making” took hold. In mixed-use, the importance of place has only rooted itself in deeper.
According to Brian Sciera, VP of lifestyle centers for Chestnut Hill, Mass.-based W/S Development, the company spends an extraordinary amount of time ensuring that the atmosphere is palpable and the energy is high in the projects it develops. “What a customer feels like when inside a project, the energy that a customer feels, is extremely important,” said Sciera. “The design and layout of the project are a big piece of that, as are the merchandising mix and amenities,” he added. “They are all important features of creating that ‘place.’”
Place-making, however, varies by project and by market. “What’s good for one project and one market may not be good for another project in another market; much depends on the site and how it lays out,” said Sciera.
What W/S Development has done consistently through its portfolio is emphasize the importance of tenant branding. “Our viewpoint is that the tenants know their customers better than anyone, and their brand is very important to them,” he said. “If they express their brand outwardly, as part of the project, and you don’t have dominant architecture controlling that expression, then it will make for a much more interesting project and a more interesting streetscape.”
MeadowWalk at Lynnfield, in the North Shore area north of Boston, is a W/S mixed-use project that has successfully integrated the personalities of the myriad uses. Retail, office and residential blend in a nearly 700,000-sq.-ft. complex that features a large public green, office above retail to create a vertical frame around the green, and a “restaurant park.”
“We have grouped a variety of restaurants together with widened sidewalks and outdoor cafe seating, valet parking, firepits and entertainment components to add significant energy to the project as a whole,” said Sciera. MeadowWalk at Lynnfield is currently in the leasing phase of development.
Seeing mixed-use at pedestrian level: Beyond the vastness of a mixed-use project, Crosland, Inc. narrows its view to hone what is visible from the customer’s vantage point. Call it what you will—wearing the customer’s hat or walking in a customer’s shoes—it works to create a project unmatched in its completeness.
“It’s important to focus on what is happening around the customer at the pedestrian scale,” said David Smith, VP of retail construction for Charlotte, N.C.-based Crosland. Smith, a veteran of Walt Disney Imaginarium, learned early on in his years as an “imagineer” that what the customer sees is crucial to the success of a project.
“The location of the land is still probably most critical to success, followed by merchandise mix and ease of access,” said Smith. “And when I say ‘ease of access,’ I mean both vehicular access as well as pedestrian access.”
Crosland emphasizes pedestrian connectivity in its projects, overlaying that with substantial lighting and landscape packages. As well, “Again at the pedestrian scale, rather than doing a large sea of gray sidewalks, we selectively work in different textures at the walking surface,” said Smith. “That could be a mix of actual brick, brick pavers, or stamped concrete or stamped asphalt.”
With lighting, Crosland strives to avoid visual light intrusion but without sacrificing safety or security. “One of the challenges that we face—and it’s driven primarily by the insurance industry—is a push toward higher and higher light levels,” said Smith. “Ideally, we would hide the source of the light so that the customer can experience more of the illumination itself. It’s a balance we have to find.”
At the company’s Biltmore Park Town Square mixed-use project in Asheville, N.C., a walkable community is being accented by Crosland’s signature landscaping and lighting enhancements. According to Steve Mauldin, senior VP of mixed/multi-use development for the company, Biltmore is a high-profile, large (285,000 sq. ft. of retail and restaurants, plus sizable office, hospitality and residential uses) project that “checks a lot of the boxes that we like to think mixed-use is.” In the Crosland pipeline are seven projects totaling more than a half-billion dollars in mixed-use development. “About half of those projects are out of the ground and going, and the other half is pretty deep in the pipeline in terms of planning and pre-development work,” Mauldin added.
Layering amenities and design: “The word ‘design’ and the word ‘amenities’ are integral to the success of a mixed-use development,” said Clayton McCaffery, VP of leasing for Chicago-based McCaffery Interests. “Each use is an amenity to the other.” Whether it’s residential to retail, retail to residential, office to retail, or office to residential, said McCaffery, “the reason why mixed-use works is because that’s the way we humans work.”
Mixed-use feels natural because it combines what it is we need and desire. But, cautioned McCaffery, just because it looks and feels right doesn’t mean that it’s easy to do.
“There’s a huge challenge in mixed-use development in that, if you put the residential above, you have to understand how you get the plumbing to run through the plenum space above a Barnes & Noble—and that is the challenge that really drives mixed-use,” he said. “You have to understand the construction and the design elements when you integrate them together.”
The Market Common, Myrtle Beach has successfully integrated a multitude of components—with great results. The master-planned project in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is a redevelopment program by the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority, with a mix of retail, restaurant, residential and hotel at its heart. “People have come to understand that The Market Common, Myrtle Beach is a great place to go,” said McCaffery. “That’s the interesting point about mixed-use projects—they’re more than retail venues,” he added. “They might not charge hard right out of the gate as a retail mecca, because they serve an additional purpose; they have a longer life span.
“The retail will evolve and grow and flourish,” said McCaffery. And understanding that, and designing and building and leasing accordingly, is the key to success.
Trends in mixed-use don’t reflect an over-night change. In fact, as with other development formats, mixed- and multi-use iterations evolve methodically, usually not evidencing themselves as “trend-worthy” for half a decade—or more.
However, even slow-developing trends are still worth reporting. In talking with five real estate developers, Chain Store Age uncovered five trends in mixed-use that are shaping the format and its surroundings.
Trend #1: Evolving the retail mix. A tightening economy has, not surprisingly, evoked some changes to the mixed-use formula. For one, said Frank Natanek, group president of real estate and marketing for Peoria, Ill.-based Cullinan Properties, condominiums are giving way to rentals.
“Because the condo and the for-sale market have stagnated,” said Natanek, “residential developers are building for the rental market instead.” This, of course, impacts the look and feel of a mixed-use project, as rental dwellings lack some of the architectural accents and upgraded materials of their for-sale counterparts, but “if a project works with rentals, great,” he said.
More evidence of an evolving retail mix in response to climate changes is the emergence of what Cullinan calls “a hybrid between a discount and traditional center,” said Natanek. “There are a number of centers that have been built over the last couple of years that, because the high-end retailers aren’t doing as many stores, are tenanted by a Wal-Mart or a Target or a Costco.”
Cullinan has projects in the works that reflect both the bent toward rentals and discount retail, but the mixed-use development that the company points to as having the most potential impact is East Peoria/Downtown 2010, an early-stage project that will convert a former Caterpillar factory and its immediate surrounds in East Peoria, Ill., to a reenergized district with retail, restaurants, entertainment, office and, perhaps, residential. Cullinan was awarded the master development role.
“We feel so strongly about this project that we have committed, as part of the development agreement, to move our corporate headquarters to the site,” said Natanek.
Trend #2: Meeting, not creating, demand. Enormously successful mixed-use projects such as Easton in Columbus, Ohio, led some developers to believe that no matter where you build it, people will come. Not so, said Marc Hays, senior VP of leasing, specialty centers, for Beachwood, Ohio-based Developers Diversified Realty.
For a mixed-use project today to succeed, or even to get built in the first place, “All of the fundamentals of what is good real estate have to be rock-solid,” said Hays. “Thanks to the phenomenal success of mixed-use projects like Easton, developers were forging ahead with projects…but they were ignoring the fundamentals of their real estate.
“If you’re going to add 300 residential units to an area, there has to be at least that much demand,” said Hays.
Herein lies the basis for trend No. 2—for a mixed-use project to be successful, it must meet, not create, demand.
Take Birkdale Village, a mixed-use community in Huntersville, N.C., acquired by Developers Diversified in 2007. “Birkdale is a project where there was a clear retail void,” said Hays. “Lake Norman, about 15 miles north of downtown Charlotte [N.C.], has long been ignored for residential, other than to serve as a site for second homes on the lake.” Because the most affluent part of Charlotte is on the south side and continuing to press in a southerly direction, “People began to realize that the commute into downtown from the south end was running 30 to 35 minutes,” said Hays. “Meanwhile, there was this beautiful lake just about 20 minutes north of downtown.”
Birkdale Village answered not only the residential and retail voids but also filled in with destination restaurants and office.
Trend #3: Layering in restaurants early. “The most important trend in mixed-use is to establish the glue up front—and the glue is the restaurant piece,” said Gerald Divaris, chairman and CEO of Virginia Beach, Va.-based Divaris Real Estate. “Restaurants create a buzz and a level of activity that spills out onto the streets.”
The retail component of mixed-use is reliant on cotenancies and cross-shopping, added Divaris, but because restaurants don’t, they can occur earlier in a phased project, “allowing the developer to create a sense of reality and the feeling of a mixed-use environment that is functioning earlier than if it were just a typical phased project,” he said.
The restaurant piece, though significant, is just one part of a Divaris project that is so large in scope that it is practically a city unto itself. The Town Center of Virginia Beach, located at the Central Business District (CBD) at Pembroke, 11 miles from downtown Norfolk, will be approximately 4.3 million sq. ft. of mixed-use space at build-out. Uses include, besides an impressive lineup of retailers and name-brand restaurants, a performing-arts center, Westin and Hilton hotels, luxury apartments and lofts, and a huge office component.
“This is a high-rise, urban-style development incorporating the full spectrum of what you would see in a typical CBD,” said Divaris. “It’s a 25-year process, but you begin to see the fruits of it now come to life.” Of the 17-block span, blocks 3-8, 10 and 12 are open; blocks 2 and 9 are slated to open in 2010.
Trend #4: Creating a place. “Mixed use started out as simply mixing together retail and office and residential, but even if it’s a small project, the idea of creating a place is important,” said Robert Ambrosi, president of Clifton, N.J.-based Arc Properties.
Creating and building a place “to be,” added Ambrosi, means considering the layers, and how they play off each other to draw the desired customer. “Mixed-use projects are now integrating signature restaurants, uses of that nature, to create a sense of place.”
Arc is creating its own sense of place through the company’s 401 Race Street project in Philadelphia. Situated right at the foot of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, “It’s a billboard location, highly visible as you come over the bridge from New Jersey or leaving Philadelphia on the bridge toward New Jersey. The visibility is tremendous,” said Ambrosi.
The site is also tourist-rich, with Constitution Center, the U.S. Mint and the Liberty Bell just footsteps away. “Most people looked at this individual building and suggested a museum or an architectural office,” said Divaris, “but the area is too busy—at 150,000 cars a day and the myriad of tourist attractions—just to have office lofts. This ‘place’ should have a hotel.” The hotel will be supplemented by a branded restaurant, recognizable to international visitors, and high-end retail such as upscale furnishings and electronics.
“These components will make 401 Race Street a place to be,” said Divaris.
Trend #5: Adding mass transit. Transit-oriented developments, or TODs, aren’t just on the horizon; they are becoming a reality of today’s mixed-use projects.
“I think mass transit is probably going to be the biggest driver of mixed-use projects,” said Emerick Corsi, executive VP of development for Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises. “It has to be.”
Corsi credits the rising cost of fuel to the increasing interest in mass transit. “People need to be able to walk out of their doors, hop on a train or a bus or whatever form the mass transit takes, and get to their destinations in an efficient and inexpensive way,” he said.
“With fuel costs going so high, the real alternative isn’t so much alternative fuels but how you can get the American public off the interstate and into mass transit.”
An enormous Forest City project that is in the throes of trying to get mass transit aboard is Konterra, located in the densely populated Washington, D.C./Baltimore corridor four miles north of the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495). Described by Corsi as “Victoria Gardens on steroids” (referring to the huge Forest City/Lewis Retail mixed-use project in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), the project will include 1.5 million sq. ft. of retail (under the banner Konterra Town Center East), 3.8 million sq. ft. of office, 4,500 residential units and 600 hotel rooms.
“It’s like building a new city,” said Corsi. “It will have basically everything under the sun—live, work, play, shop. It will have all the ingredients.”