Mixed-use makes for good retail
As part of our in-depth coverage of mixed-use developments – see the October 2011 issue of Chain Store Age – we talked with Rob Wetherald, VP development for Peoria, Ill.-based Cullinan Properties, Ltd., owner and developer of the Streets of St. Charles mixed-use project in metro St. Louis, about how the format draws, and supports, retail.
How important are design and amenities to today’s mixed-use projects, especially with regard to the retail component?
Successful mixed-use developments create a “community” that carefully blends various types of users, including shoppers, diners, office workers and residents. The development plan must present a pleasant, safe and attractive environment in which it is easy to navigate and maneuver by foot, automobile and other modes of transportation. Unlike other developments that segregate residential areas from business areas, mixed-use developments promote and encourage a neighborhood atmosphere. This is reinforced by the inclusion of common areas, amenities, signage and other elements that make for a cohesive design. This is referred to by urban planners, as the “city within a city.”
As in many aspects of life today, the ecology plays a large role in the design of mixed-use developments. By their very nature, mixed-use plans place homes, offices, shops and restaurants all in close proximity, fostering a “walk-ability” that is not possible in settings that keep the various uses separated by streets and by distance. As people choose a greener and more sustainable lifestyle, mixed-use developments offer a way to live those goals by eliminating the need to drive to work or to run errands. More and more, mixed-use developments are springing up in urban central locations, providing the opportunity to walk or ride a bike instead of hopping in the car. People leave their cars at home, which alleviates traffic, emissions and probably stress!
Successful mixed-use developments are designed to allow a smooth flow of traffic. These developments lend themselves to smarter transportation planning both within the development itself and on a larger scale as well. With proper master planning, communities can be provided with multiple routes to major destinations, which in turn alleviates traffic – even during times that are traditionally congested.
As in the case of all real estate, location is a key to success. The successful mixed-use development offers close proximity to a host of “urban” amenities, including schools, healthcare facilities and entertainment venues. As multi-family housing units expand into the urban landscape, people of all ages are demanding more affordable and manageable living quarters in vibrant, convenient and entertainment-driven environments.
Developers and retailers alike are looking to be a part of an experience that captures all of these elements.
Talk to us about Streets of St. Charles, your mixed-use project currently under development.
The Streets of St. Charles really embodies all of the components of a successful mixed-use development. It is located in the metropolitan St. Louis area, and is currently in construction with Phase I opening in 2012.
Streets of St. Charles will provide a “360-degree experience” to retailers, offering a captive residential and office component with a highly sought after daytime population.
Located at the intersection of Interstate 70 and South Fifth Street, Streets of St. Charles is quickly establishing itself as the destination in St. Charles County and the surrounding region for shopping, dining, entertainment and also a place in which to live and work. With incredible access and visibility from I-70 – with 187,000 cars driving by each day – the 26-acre site will include approximately 1.4 million sq. ft. of space in a safe, convenient and distinctive environment unlike anything in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area.
About 250,000 sq. ft. of restaurants and shops will anchor the project, with 250,000 sq. ft. of office space above and around the retail. The project will include two hotels, a healthclub facility and a 15-screen movie theater. Since the medical field is one of the largest employers in the St. Louis market, Cullinan anticipates several medical office tenants. The project will include several hundred upscale residential units that will initially be offered as rental apartments but will be designed and appointed like condominiums. Streets of St. Charles will be unique to the area and certainly different than anything in the St. Louis area.
In planning the project, we strove to create a site that is both vehicular and pedestrian-friendly while ensuring that every use meshes together properly. The development team logged many hours exploring the various possibilities for the site in order to refine the town center nature of the project. The project will be adaptable to the changing needs of retailers, restaurateurs and office tenants. Centered on a main boulevard with an eco-friendly rain garden as its feature, Streets of St. Charles will offer its own environment, filled with wonderful attractions and services that provide amenity to the community. Four different points of entry into the development will greatly mitigate traffic congestion, and ample, structured parking will be positioned so shoppers, diners and office tenants have easy access to their respective uses.
Streets of St. Charles will be a wonderful addition to the vibrant center of life in St. Charles, providing a compliment to the Historic Main Street District and other attractions in the surrounding area.
Castro-Wright resignation noteworthy, but not a surprise
Normally, it is a big deal when the vice chairman of a major company announces their retirement. Especially when said executive is only 56 and in the prime of their senior leadership years. That wasn’t the case earlier this week when Walmart announced that Eduardo Castro-Wright would be stepping down as vice chairman and CEO of the company’s global e-commerce and global sourcing businesses.
In a brief press release, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. president and CEO Mike Duke offered that, “Eduardo has made many contributions at Walmart, beginning in Mexico and continuing until today. He has been a strong advocate for our customers and in every assignment has brought passion and commitment to the job. He has also built talented teams wherever he has led.”
The interesting thing about Duke’s brief statement is that there is no mention of the word results. During the decade he spent at Walmart, Castro-Wright experienced a meteoric rise through the ranks of senior management. A former consumer packaged goods executive, he joined Walmart in 2001 as president and COO of Walmart Mexico. Less than two years later he was named CEO of that business and Mexico was one of Walmart’s strongest markets during his leadership tenure. Unfortunately for Walmart, Castro-Wright was unable to replicate that success in the U.S., when in 2005 he became COO of Walmart’s U.S. stores division just as the division was undergoing a major senior leadership transition following the ouster of former stores division top executive Tom Coughlin. It wasn’t long before Castro-Wright was named president and CEO of the division and set out to lead a dramatic and multifaceted three year transformation initiative that would become known as Project Impact.
He, along with a leadership triumvirate that included COO Bill Simon, chief merchandising officer John Fleming and chief marketing officer Stephen Quinn implemented a strategy which include key elements revealed as ineffective. The pursuit of Project Impact did not produce desired financial results and last year top merchant Fleming left the company while Castro Wright saw his responsibilities greatly reduced as he was give oversight of the company’s newly restructure global.com operation based in California.
Former COO Bill Simon was elevated to the role of Walmart U.S. president and CEO and Flemings old head merchant job was filled by Duncan Mac Naughton. The duo set about undoing key elements of Project Impact by restoring product assortments, returning feature displays to Action Alley and restoring discipline to the company’s commitment to everyday low prices.
Departure of former international finance chief a loss for Walmart
Wan Ling Martello may not have been a household name outside of Walmart, but that doesn’t diminish the significance of her departure from a company eager to achieve a higher degree of diversity among the ranks of its senior executives.
Martello was among the company’s most senior female executives and most recently served as EVP and COO of global e-commerce, emerging markets, a role that was established over a year ago when Walmart created its global.com business unit. However, she was best known among the financial community for her role as Walmart International’s top financial executive beginning in 2005. That position currently is filled by international CFO Cathy Smith who just last week as a featured speaker at a Network of Executive Women leadership conference expressed dismay that more progress hasn’t been made to achieve a higher degree of diversity in business.
Martello left Walmart to become CFO of global food giant Nestle where she replaces longtime finance chief Jim Singh who will retire early next year. Singh spent 35 years with Nestle. In announcing her appointment, Nestle portrayed Martello as someone with vast knowledge of the finance and control area and solid experience in the food and beverage business as well as the retail segment. She is a CPA with an MBA from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accountancy from the University of the Philippines.
“I am confident that Wan Ling will blend well into the Nestlé culture and that her strong experience in finance and the food and beverage business, both from the industry and retail angle, will allow her to further enhance the Nestlé model combining top-line growth with continuous margin improvement and an improved return on invested capital,” Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke said.
Prior to joining Walmart in 2005, Martello served as CFO, COO and eventually president of the U.S. arm of the former Nielsen subsidiary NCH Marketing Services for seven years. Prior to that, she held senior finance roles with Borden Foods and Kraft Foods.