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Multimedia: Nike, University Village, Seattle

BY Marianne Wilson

Nike’s store in University Village, Seattle, was created as a sanctuary for athletes. The goal is present in every detail in the 6,247-sq.-ft. store, including this quote from company co-founder Bill Bowerman that is painted onto the bleacher board behind the cash wrap: "There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people."

Nike has a classic Fieldhouse look, with reclaimed wood bleacher board featured inside the space and on the store’s façade. Gym lockers are incorporated into the fixtures. Polished concrete flooring and rubber gym flooring help reinforce the design intent. Decorative javelins hang from the ceiling and a wall treatment of runners’ bib numbers greet shoppers near the fitting rooms. Customers can test sneakers prior to purchase on the store’s top-of-the-line treadmill.

In like with Nike’s commitment to the environment, sustainable elements figure prominently throughout the store. A sneaker recycling bin is located at the store’s entrance, allowing customers to drop their used sneakers after buying a new pair. Nike will then recycle the used footwear.

DESIGN: Nike, Beaverton, Ore.
ARCHITECT: TVA Architects
PHOTOS: Andes Photography, Portland, Ore.

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ChainLinks: Planned unit growth up over last year

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Retail expansion in the United States has not come to an end, but its focus has shifted. That’s one of the findings contained in the 2014 ChainLinks Retail Advisors U.S. National Retail Investment Forecast Report.

The study finds planned potential unit growth is up in 2014 about 3% compared to this time last year. Some categories, including apparel, gifts, electronic goods and books, are relatively flat or even in contraction mode. But food-related uses, ranging from grocery stores to restaurants are up, as is service-related retail, automotive users (such as Autozone or Pep Boys), financial services related players, and medical users looking for retail outlets.

“Growth continues to be propelled by space users impacted by the economy; luxury retail is back on the nation’s high street retail districts while discounters of all stripes (ranging from dollar stores to off-price apparel and low-end groceries) continue to gobble up space at a robust pace,” the report states. “Meanwhile, food and service related users have more than picked up the pace from hard goods players (impacted by e-commerce) that have put bricks and mortar growth plans on hold or that have considerably reduced them.”

The end result is that, despite the growth of e-commerce, retail fundamentals continue to improve in the United States, accord. Of the 60 major metropolitan markets that ChainLinks tracks, 41 recorded the same or decreasing vacancy levels over the course of 2013.

According to ChainLinks, the return of new construction has played a role in slightly increasing vacancy levels in a number of major U.S. markets, including; Kansas City (10.0% to 10.2%), St. Louis (10.9% to 11.0%), Chicago (9.8% to 11.0%), Cleveland (12.3% to 12.7%), Detroit 11.8% to 12.0%), Milwaukee (10.3% to 10.4%), Charlotte (9.7% to 9.9%), Hampton Roads (7.8% to 8.8%), Raleigh/ Durham (7.1% to 7.2%), Tampa Bay (9.1% to 9.3%), Philadelphia (7.6% to 7.9%) and Boston (5.3% to 6.7%).

“In nearly all of these markets, we expect recent vacancy upticks to be short-lived as strong demand remains in place for Class A space in every one of these trade areas. There is also increasing demand for Class B space in most of these markets — particularly as Class A availability continues to tighten with asking rents growing aggressively,” the report states.

Indeed, the report finds that in every market surveyed, brokers report a shortage of Class A shopping center space. This holds true for San Francisco, New York, Boston, San Diego, Washington, D.C., San Jose, Philadelphia, Seattle, Baltimore, Miami, Los Angeles or Pittsburgh (some of the lowest vacancy marketplaces over the past few years) or Detroit, Cleveland, Louisville, Atlanta, Inland Empire, and Indianapolis.

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Walgreens to present net zero-energy store at SPECS

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Walgreens will share learnings, insights and real-time performance data gained from building and operating the retail industry’s first net zero-energy store at Chain Store Age’s 50th annual SPECS Conference, March 9 -12, Gaylord Texan Hotel, Grapevine, Texas.

“I hope attendees will come away from the SPECS session excited and enthused to try something new,” Jamie Meyers, manager of sustainability, told Chain Store Age during a tour of the store, which is located in Evanston, Ill. “And by sharing what we’ve learned — what to do and what not to do — we hope to make it (net zero-energy stores) more financially feasible for others so that they can become mainstream.”

Meyers and design engineer Jason Robbins will present a real-time update on the store at the SPECS session, “An Industry First: Walgreens Net Zero-Energy Store,” Monday, March 10, at 2:10 pm.

Walgreens has previously used or experimented with many of the technologies featured in the Evanston store. But this is the first time the chain has put them all under one roof.

“We want to learn as much as we can from this store,” Meyers said.

Featuring two 35-ft. tall wind turbines, nearly 850 solar panels, a geothermal system burrowed 550 ft. into the ground, and daylight harvesting, Walgreens plans to generate electricity and reduce its energy usage in the store by more than 50%.

Some of the more unique elements include the use of directional LED lighting (leading to reduced energy use for lighting by 30%), carbon dioxide refrigerant for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment, and wind turbines that allow wind to be captured from any direction. Also unusual is the sawtooth design of the building, which has separate roof planes.

“The roof is designed to maximize daylighting, “Meyers explained.

To provide as much roof space as possible for the solar panels, all the major equipment is housed in a mechanical mezzanine that is open to public view.

One of the biggest surprises since the Evanston location opened in late 2013, Meyers said, has been the number of people, ranging from other retailers to customers to local school groups, that want to tour it.

“It’s generating a lot of interest,” Meyers said.

As to how the store is performing, Meyers said: “Every day we are putting power back on the grid, and that’s what’s its all about.”

To see photos of Walgreens Evanston, click here.

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