Let Us Entertain You
As a category of shopping center, open-air centers have been evolving ever since the days they were called lifestyle centers. New categories of tenants have evolved, along with new ways of creating compelling tenant mixes and environments. We asked three open-air owners to tell us about current and possible future directions that evolution may take.
The companies are San Diego-based American Assets Trust; Irvine Co. Retail Properties in Irvine, Calif.; and Columbus, Ohio-based Glimcher Realty Trust. Here’s what they had to say.
American Assets Trust Remembers the Alamo
American Assets Trust acquires, develops and manages retail, office and residential properties primarily on the West Coast, in Texas and in Hawaii. Its retail portfolio consists of 12 shopping centers spanning 3.1 million sq. ft. The company’s open-air properties include four centers, totaling about 1.9 million sq. ft. Each has its own unique character. Consider San Antonio’s Alamo Quarry Market, for instance.
“Alamo Quarry Market starts in the morning and continues into the evening,” said John Chamberlain, president and CEO of American Assets Trust. “It entertains while satisfying daily necessities.”
Not far from the historical Alamo, Alamo Quarry Market can entertain with a photograph. Check out the accompanying photo with five white smokestacks. The 589,479-sq.-ft. center stands on the site of the old Alamo Cement Company. The center’s design incorporates the cement company’s original smokestacks, rock crusher building and clinker building.
The unique environment attracts retailers, restaurants and entertainment that fill the center with people.
“We have the area’s dominant theater,” said Chris Sullivan, VP retail leasing with the company. “When you have the top theater, restaurants follow, and restaurants are entertainment.”
The development boasts 19 eateries, including high-end, sit-down restaurants such as Piatti Italian Ristorante, a growing chain with nine locations; Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar; California Pizza Kitchen; and a mix of other well-known names.
Alamo Quarry Market is also home to a Whole Foods Market, with its interactive offerings such as cooking and nutrition classes and other events.
Restoration Hardware, Whole Earth Provision Co., Pottery Barn, Lucchese Boot Co. and Banana Republic fill out the list of more than 60 retailers.
Glimcher Evolves into Mixed-Use
Glimcher Realty Trust owns material interests in and manages a portfolio of 29 retail centers spanning about 19.2 million sq. ft. About one-quarter of the properties are open air. Some are open-air retail in mixed-use developments.
“We would like to evolve to mixed-use,” said Michael Glimcher, the company’s CEO and chairman of the board. “We think more uses give people more reasons to come to the property.”
Scottsdale Quarter in Scottsdale, Ariz., is an example of Glimcher’s mixed-use concept. Currently at 600,000 sq. ft., it has 400,000 sq. ft. of retail. The project blends retail, restaurants, entertainment and office space. Apartment buildings are under construction now. “We try to emulate cities with our properties,” Glimcher said. “Here we have a great outdoor fountain and 152 date palm trees. There are 10 restaurants, service uses, an Apple Store and Nike. It has all the elements we love.”
Glimcher particularly likes the Restoration Hardware Gallery at Scottsdale Quarter. It is the 3-year-old showroom prototype that rolled out in Houston in 2011. “When we made the deal, there were zero open,” he said. “Ours is the second or third of its kind. They are one of the most exciting retailers out there.”
It is a 20,000-sq.-ft. house with a roof deck. The rooms are built out. If you like the room, you buy it — or part of it.
What does Glimcher foresee in the future for open-air centers? “I think the lines are beginning to blur,” he said. “I can see an indoor mall connected to an outdoor center.”
The All-Open-Air Irvine Co.Retail Properties
Irvine, Calif.-based Irvine Co. Retail Properties maintains a portfolio of 39 centers, which includes three large regional centers and 36 neighborhood and community centers. Every one of them is open air.
“Part of the excitement of open-air retail is the continuing evolution,” said Ken Gillett, senior VP operations with Irvine Co. Retail Properties.
For instance, a new restaurant concept called Urban Plates recently opened at the 334,000-sq.-ft. Crossroads community center in Irvine. It is a farm-to-plate restaurant. The food comes from local farms and producers, and chefs prepare the plates right in front of the customer.
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the super-regional Fashion Island in Newport Beach spans 1.3 million sq. ft. “Fashion Island opened in 1967 and has evolved constantly,” Gillett said. “Last year, we added a Whole Foods Market. Specialty grocers are becoming part of the entertainment mix in open-air centers.”
Whole Foods’ entertainment value comes from the classes and events, locally brewed craft beers, the restaurant — Back Bay Tavern — and, of course, its grocery offerings.
“Food creates return visits in our centers,” Gillett continued.
Of course, it isn’t just food. It’s the combination of food, shops, entertainment and design.
“Design is a matter of paying attention to large and small details,” Gillett said. “Landscaping helps create great public spaces. So do comfortable furniture, water features, music and even the Wi-Fi. People expect Wi-Fi today — and it has to be good Wi-Fi.”
Fashion Island has already taken the next step in entertainment by bringing in Island Cinema, which offers state-of-the-art technology, luxurious seating, and, of course, dinner and wine.
Haier bids adieu to Broadway with new HQ
Home appliance and consumer electronics manufacturer Haier America has chosen the northern New Jersey town of Wayne as the location of its new 56,000-sq.-ft. U.S. headquarters.
The new facility will be home to 200 employees, training centers, customer service operations and a product showroom where retailers can see new products and concepts. Renovations are currently underway on a building at 1800 Valley Road in Wayne, N.J., that will replace the company’s current office at 1356 Broadway in Manhattan this fall.
“As Haier continues to develop our footprint across the Americas, we believe it is important to establish a facility that is ready for the expansion,” said Adrian Micu, president and CEO of Haier America. “We are building an organization better suited to support our customers and consumers through a more holistic consumer-centric approach and the new facility will foster this collaboration.”
Haier America is part of the Haier Group, a global company with more than 70,000 employees and annual sales of $29.5 billion.
Making the Switch
A survey of 87 retailers conducted by Pacific Gas & Electric found many are unhappy with their lighting and are considering LED lighting to save energy. But, at the same time, they lack sufficient information to evaluate products.
PAR lamps, such as PAR38 and PAR30, are popular for accent lighting because they create contrast, focusing light emission in a single direction. Available in a variety of beam spreads, they offer retailers a lot of flexibility. Creating what they often refer to as “punch,” retailers reach for “spot” lamps when lighting key displays, and “narrow flood” and “flood” lamps to layer in bright fill lighting or create great wash effects. Trading halogen for suitable energy-saving LED PAR lamps can reduce ongoing energy costs by up to 80%, resulting in savings that fall to the bottom line, like net profit.
Determining if LED replacement lamps in PAR trackheads or downlights can do the best job possible is somewhat reliant on observing mock-ups. It’s difficult to qualify such a visual product from published common bid specifications, including lumens, wattage, beam angle, efficacy and rated service life.
Retailers may be less familiar with the overlap in beam classifications across manufacturers, and noticeable light pattern variations exist between PAR halogen and LED products with “the same” nominal light output (lumens), beam angle and field angle.
A better approach to evaluating similar lamps and capturing more subjective qualities (such as beam characteristics and color quality) is to benchmark options with a scorecard comprised of the following elements:
• Field angle and spill light
• Lamp appearance
• Fit and compatibility with other lighting
• Color quality (natural colors/complexion, vividness)
• Appearance of white light (CCT (Kelvin))
By evaluating the lamps against these factors, a retailer can better verify aesthetics, which increases confidence and project value.
For example, suppose a retailer wanted to use a PAR lamp to highlight a necklace on a mannequin, with the light spanning its shoulders. The retailer then goes on to compare two different PAR lamps with the same lumens and beam angle. Since catalog data shows Lamp A has higher beam intensity (CBCP) than Lamp B, the end user anticipates Lamp A will be the better, brighter product of the two.
However, the reality is Lamp B provides the best overall impact and coverage in this scenario. The reason is because Lamp A has a lower field angle, and it’s actually the light contained within the field angle that is producing the less-than-desired effect of lighting the shoulders. In other words, beam angle and CBCP data don’t portray a complete picture of light distribution from directional lamps.
Likewise, the spacing of PAR lamps that accent vertical displays throughout a sales floor and around the store perimeter relies on field light.
Although successful display lighting depends on the appeal of displays, ambient lighting and proper focus of accent lighting, field angle is an example of something that is important and easily observed. But it is rarely captured about products in competitive project bids.
With lasting light intensity and high color quality, qualifying PAR LED lamps means energy reduction strategies do not have to deteriorate highlighting.
When evaluating PAR lamps, retailers should ask vendors about how their products meet the factors on the scorecard as opposed to just top-level facts that look good on paper. In doing so, there is a better change that the lighting will meet the retailer’s real-world goals, and also save a lot of time in the process.
Sally Lee is retail market segment manager at OSRAM SYLVANIA.