REAL ESTATE

New retail concept for kids makes Chicago debut

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — A new retail concept, Wonder!, has opened it first location in Deerfield, Ill. The 135,000-sq.-ft. space is intended as a one-stop shopping solution, focused on children ages birth to seven years. It combines a broad selection of product (including baby gear, furniture, bedding, apparel, and toys) with an array of experiential elements.

The brainchild of entrepreneur Shane Christensen, the company plans to expand the concept into other major markets in the next year (it already has launched an e-commerce site). Bill Colaianni, former Walmart chief marketing and merchandising officer for Central America, is serving as CEO.

“As a company comprised of parents, we decided to create a destination where you could buy everything you could ever dream of for infants and young children, but at the same time make shopping actually fun for the entire family,” Christensen said. “I saw with my own eyes how fragmented the children’s retail environment was with boutiques, specialty chains, mass merchants, and play and party locations.”

Designed by Gensler, Wonder! features a half-acre interactive play area, complete with 20-ft. live trees, 10 classrooms and a stage that will host special events, concerts and activities. To always provide a new play experience, the retailer plans to frequently change the play area’s components.

Other Wonder! attractions include a space for customized parties,

“After being in the business for 35 years, I can tell you that the Wonder! concept is smart, fresh and unlike anything out there right now in the world of children’s retail,” said CEO Colaianni. “We are setting out to change the game, to create an experiential shopping destination for parents and their kids and make a difference in parents’ lives.”

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REAL ESTATE

City Sports opens 21st store

BY Staff Writer

Silver Spring, Md. — City Sports has opened its 21st store, in downtown Silver Spring, Md. It is the retailer’s second location in the metro D.C. area to open in the past year.

The store features an interactive electronics section that offers shoppers the use of in-store iPads to access information about products and the ability to wear-test headphones.

One of the key features of the Silver Spring store is City Sports’ signature women’s concept, a specially curated experience designed specifically for its female customer that the brand first introduced this past summer. The section houses a comprehensive assortment of sports bras of any specialty athletic retailer, a large selection of training pants, yoga and Pilates gear, private fitting rooms and an iMac communal area.

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REAL ESTATE

Report: U.S. retail availability expected to decline in 2012

BY Staff Writer

Boston — A report released Monday by CBRE Econometric Advisors, a division of Los Angeles-based CBRE Group, said that the U.S. retail real estate sector’s availability rate is expected to decline to 12.4% by the end of 2012.

In 2013, the national retail availability rate, including neighborhood and community centers, will drop further, reaching 11.7%.

In third quarter 2011 the retail availability rate was 13.2%. This rate remains well above the previous availability peak of 11.3% set in second quarter 1992.

“Net absorption is finally in positive territory after spending the first half of 2011 in the red,” said Abigail Rosenbaum, economist, CBRE-EA. “Absorption will remain positive over the next few years but will remain close to, or below, the historical average.”

CBRE-EA said it projects new construction will remain historically low during the next year. However, rents will decline slightly by 0.7% in 2012. A modest increase in rents of 1.8% is projected for 2013.

“We do not expect rents to get back to their 2008 levels until early 2017,” added Rosenbaum. CBRE-EA does project positive retail rent growth during the next two years in Denver, Austin, Nashville, Tenn., New York and Columbus, Ohio.

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