REAL ESTATE

Simon looks to remake mall with an NHL team

BY Al Urbanski

Simon Property Group has always striven to put its malls cut above the rest with top-drawer tenants. Now it’s pushing the experience envelope by courting a National Hockey League franchise.

Simon has joined the effort of NHL Seattle to bring a team to that town. Should it come to fruition, the new franchise’s headquarters and training center will become the centerpiece of a transformation of Seattle’s Northgate Mall into a “world class, transit-oriented mixed-use center,” COO Michael McCarty said at the announcement of the partnership at Northgate yesterday.

Earlier this year, Simon announced a multi-year project to take advantage of a planned light rail station near Northgate to make it over as mixed-use with the addition of some 1,200 residential units, 800,000 sq. ft. of office space and 500,000 sq. ft. of retail.

The promise of an NHL headquarters alters Simon’s plan to include a large central park and gathering space that would incorporate the practice facility and link it to the rest of the project and nearby neighborhoods.

A press release from Simon stated that the project would feature a “next generation anchor by blurring the lines and creating a unique indoor/outdoor, publicly accessible space.”

That’s if Seattle gets its hockey team. It’s considered a leading candidate because the NHL is absent from the northwest market, but the renovation of Key Arena, where the team would play, is not scheduled for completion until 2020. Other contenders for franchises like Kansas City, Houston, and Quebec City have arenas in place.

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CBL malls devote weekend to breast cancer awareness

BY Al Urbanski

Thousands of women got together in malls this weekend — but to spread breast cancer awareness, not shop.

CBL Properties sponsored a series of Spotlight Socials in 33 malls across its portfolio over the weekend for fashion, beauty, fitness, and food events conducted in concert with several national and local charities.

“In the U.S., a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every two minutes. This event shined a light on the organizations in CBL’s markets that do vitally important work to help women navigate this diagnosis every day,” said CBL corporate communications director Stacey Keating.

Participating organizations included Susan G. Komen Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the Mary Ellen Locher Breast Cancer Center of Excellence, UK Markey Cancer Center, and Florida Cancer Specialists.

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5Qs for John Crossman on community involvement

BY Al Urbanski

When you meet John Crossman and learn that his father was a civil rights leader who helped integrate churches in Central Florida in the Sixties, you are not surprised. The warm smile and calming voice of the CEO of Crossman & Company seemed more fitting for the pulpit than the trade show booth where we met him at the ICSC’s Florida show. And when we probed about his management of the several hundred Southeast properties owned by his company, we learned that community involvement was one of his core values. We asked him to dig deeper on the topic of developers and community.

Developers work closely with municipal authorities to bring retail centers of value to communities. How deep a commitment should developers make to communities in which they build?
My short answer is very deep, as deep as you can. I once talked to a pastor of a church and asked what was the key to his success. He told me it was to “pierce the local culture.” The same is true in retail development. You’ve got to connect to the local culture. Think about the public school system in a community. Think about how a small investment like $500 goes a considerable way. I would tell developers to look at investing in schools.

Many town residents have a negative attitude toward developers, feeling they and their investors are simply motivated by self-interest. Are they wrong?
It depends. Like everything else in life, there’s good and bad in every occupation. Some developers are doing wonderful things to make their communities better, so I would tell municipalities to do a better job in attracting developers and retailers that have their best interests in mind. Do your homework with RFPs. Some developers want to be involved in communities for a long time to come. Some want to sell when the paint dries.

Give me a favorite example of how Crossman operates as a corporate citizen in one of its markets.
We have made a big investment in college students across the country who are interested in careers in real estate. We offer scholarships through our many properties and we also do it through the ICSC foundation. Real estate education not very prevalent in colleges across the country, but I think we’re known for it in Florida. I don’t think there’s anybody else doing it, and we’d love for other developers to join with us. The first time we endowed a scholarship, we hoped our competitors would do the same. We would love nothing better than to finish in last place in this pursuit.

Your father, the Reverend Kenneth C. Crossman, was a civil rights activist. Does his influence color the way you and Crossman & Company do business?
Absolutely. The first real estate scholarships we awarded were at Florida A&M and Bethune Cookman, both black colleges. We got involved with education because it was a legacy issue with our dad and we wanted to continue to do some bridge-building. We see some very talented students come out of our communities and go to work on Wall Street and don’t know our industry exists. We try to connect them to real estate, because even if they become CEO of a company, real estate is going to be connected to their job in some way.

If you could use one word to advise fellow developers on how to act in their communities, what would it be?
Love. If I had two, I’d add listen. One of the most common things you hear people say is that you have to learn tolerance. But, to me, tolerating is putting up with something — a baby crying on an airplane, for instance. What I prefer to say is love is the thing to learn. I’m inspired by my faith. Love your neighbors. Embrace the local communities surrounding your developments. One of the best developments I know is The Villages north of Orlando. They have a great Christmas tree lighting ceremony, they put up a big Menorah, they celebrate Oktober Fest. If it’s something that’s important to residents, they don’t tolerate it, they embrace it.

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