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On the Town

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Retail headlines on newspapers and trade journals around the country have heralded the end of the golden age of the traditional shopping mall.

Depends on how you define traditional.

True, today’s penchant for building and tenanting open-air shopping centers is a powerful deviation from the regional enclosed shopping-mall experience. But, as more and more of these open-air projects take on a Main Street or town-center flavor, the experience may feel more familiar than you think.

Main Street and town-center-style shopping centers return us, visually and functionally, to the days when we shopped downtown, when the department stores were part of our geographic centers, when Main Street’s local boutiques and service business dominated our downtown landscapes.

Although the original Main Street all but disappeared after enclosed-mall developments followed the residential populations out to the suburbs, a bevy of new Main Street-inspired projects have rekindled those downtown memories. Certainly, today’s Main Street and town-center projects aren’t solely urban developments—they work quite nicely in the suburbs, as well—but they provide the same intimate, connected feel, whether in an urban or a suburban setting, that the original town squares and Main Streets offered.

Not surprisingly, America’s shopping center development community is divided on the definition of “town center.” Some developers describe a town center as an open-air project that contains a town square, fountains, landscaping, benches, places for people to meet and to socialize. Others, however, believe that in order to qualify as a town center, the project must have a civic component—whether that be a post office, City Hall, or a library that pulls people into the town-square arena.

Some think the town-center approach is more of a street grid, with an abundance of city blocks spanning the acreage.

However it is defined, town-center developments and their Main Street counterparts are taking lifestyle centers to an entirely different level. On the following pages, you’ll see examples of perhaps the finest Main Streets and town centers in America. More of these projects are in the pipelines, so you can be sure there will be a “Main Streets and Town Centers, Part 2” in 2008.

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Winn-Dixie team honored for turnaround

BY CSA STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The team that lead Winn-Dixie Stores’ successful turnaround initiative is being honored by the Turnaround Management Association for the best ‘Mega Company Turnaround’ for 2007. Comprised of financial experts from The Blackstone Group, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Smith Hulsey & Busey, the team helped Winn-Dixie regain the market share and profits it started to lose in the mid 1990s and early 2000s to competitors Publix and Wal-Mart.

Winn-Dixie filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2005 after reporting  year-to-date losses of $552.8 million or $3.93 per share of common stock and a decline of 4.9% in identical-store sales in its second fiscal quarter over the same period in 2004.

 

Despite the difficulty of achieving a succesful turnaround, Winn-Dixie began its reorganization effort, while still continuing to operate its core business and preserving jobs. According to the Turnaround Management Association, it created new common stock for five classes of unsecured creditors, with recoveries ranging from about 96% to 53%. The company emerged from bankruptcy on Nov. 21, 2006.

For its fiscal year ended June 27, Winn-Dixie reported adjusted EBITDA of  $85.9 million compared to a loss of $27.8 million last year and an identical-store sales increase of 1.6% 

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Sears ends deal with maternity retailer

BY CSA STAFF

PHILADELPHIA Sears and Mothers Work, the world’s leading maternity apparel retailer, will not be renewing their agreement, Mothers Work announced today. Under their current agreement, Mothers Works operates the maternity apparel department in 502 Sears stores through the sale of its Two Hearts Maternity branded merchandise.

Mothers Work said it expects its partnership with Sears to end on June 20, 2008, when it current deal with the company is expected to expire.

Rebecca Matthias, president and ceo of Mothers Work, noted, “While we are disappointed about the end of our relationship with Sears, we feel the decision not to proceed with a renewal is in the best interest of our stockholders since we were unable to reach terms on a renewal which would be favorable for Mothers Work and our stockholders. “

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