REAL ESTATE

North Carolina mixed-use center to rise up around new Ikea

BY Al Urbanski

Ikea announced last week it would build a new location adjacent to a CBL property outside Raleigh, and this week CBL announced it would capitalize on that occasion to transform its Cary Towne Center into a mixed-use project.

CBL has been working with the town of Cary — an affluent and growing community in the Research Triangle — to start the zoning process to allow the construction of a multi-phase renovation of the property. Plans call for a mix of high-end retail, dining, entertainment, residential, office, and green space.

“CBL is thrilled that IKEA has chosen Cary Towne Center for its next potential location in North Carolina,” said Stephen Lebovitz, president and CEO of CBL. “Cary Towne Center is ideally located, and there is strong demand to elevate the center to the next level.”

The Cary market area holds some 170,000 residents with average household incomes above $90,000.

This is the second big project destined for Cary. Last month, Columbia, South Carolina-based Columbia development announced plans to erect a 2-million-sq.-ft. multi-use project called Eastern Cary Gateway.

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REAL ESTATE

PREIT puts two malls on the market

BY Al Urbanski

PREIT’s mall-pruning program picked up during the retail real estate industry’s big RECon show.

As the show floor opened in Las Vegas, the Philadelphia-based company announced it had put up for sale Logan Valley Mall in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and Valley View Mall in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. PREIT reported it had received unsolicited interest in these properties and was willing to dispose of them to increase its cash position.

"To date, we have successfully sold 16 lower-productivity malls as part of our non-core property disposition program. With these additional dispositions, we are taking further action to strengthen our portfolio amid a challenging retail climate," said CEO Joe Coradino in a statement.

Disposing of these assets, the company estimates, will ratchet up its average portfolio-wide sales by $10 per square foot.

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VIP lounges coming to brick-and-mortar retail?

BY Al Urbanski

Great personal experiences are what separate brick-and-mortar retail from its virtual cousin on the Web, and high-end experiences will soon be coming to luxury stores.

That’s one of 10 key elements to increase foot traffic introduced at RECon this week by Vicki Eickelberger, managing director of Big Red Rooster, a store design unit of JLL.

“Consumers articulate their frustrations with brick and mortar retail, and the retailers that are adapting are creating immersive experiences,” she said. “Surprisingly, today’s digital channels have actually heightened the need for physical stores, but generic experiences and design elements won’t engage or fly with today’s customers.”

Here are some of the tactics being employed by forward-thinking retailers, Eickelberger said, to get more customers crossing their thresholds:

Hospitality in store: Luxury brands are known to offer amenities including VIP spaces, private fitting rooms and lounge areas in their flagship stores. Those perks are meant to entice and reward their best customers.

Bringing the playing field to shoppers: Interactive zones that allow consumers to test products and engage in experiences are crucial to combatting e-com. Under Armour’s Chicago brand house uses authentic materials to bring the track, field, or court in store for customers to try on and test shoes.

Food for thought: By 2025, as much as 20% of shopping center gross leasable area is expected to be occupied by food and beverage concepts.

Brand heritage: Digital marketers employ storytelling as a key component of their marketing efforts. Some physical retailers now present museum-like displays of a brand’s early products or origins, or an iconic piece of merchandise the brand prides itself on. These elements invite guests into the retailer’s culture and build a canvas for a retailer to feature its heritage.

Click here for more of Eickelberger’s point-of-sale tips.

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