REAL ESTATE

The fountains of retail sales

BY Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs

Shopping center owners are working hard to set their centers apart to drive sales with restaurants, entertainment venues, and public parks, but they still have to invest in calling attention to all of these new amenities. One effective way to do this is to incorporate thoughtfully designed water features.

Be it a single large-scale fountain or an interactive show set to lights and music, water entertainment features provide a natural focal point within a landscape retail environment. These fountains are “wow” factors that draw guests in and increase foot traffic with lengths of stay. A study conducted by Macerich found that shoppers spent an average of $25 more per visit at centers with interactive water features.

At The Point in El Segundo, California, we designed the landscape to incorporate a large circular fountain with a fire pit at its center, surrounded by a variety of outdoor seating areas for guests to gather and enjoy surrounding eateries or retailers. There is also a long, rectangular water feature encompassing five large planters that acts as a natural wall against the patio of a neighboring restaurant allowing views of the passersby.

Because of this highly activated area, shoppers continue to flock to The Point and retailers are willing to pay a premium for space in the center. Such demand allows center owners to curate a unique mix of tenants that guarantees tenants abundant traffic for years to come. The Point is one of the top retail destinations in its market and attracts thousands of people each day.

Water features also gives center operators a medium that can be activated both day and at night.

At The Village at Meridian in Meridian, Idaho, Lifescapes and Outside the Lines created a landscape design that features two sizable fountains within its European-style retail space. One water feature is a large lake-like fountain with a low waterfall bubbling over rock formations that serves as a gathering place for busy shoppers to meet, socialize and linger. At night, shoppers are drawn to the other fountain to witness dancing water streams set to music.

The simple fact is that, as e-commerce sales continue to rise, retail center owners have a need to integrate more experiential factors into their centers. Today, more and more of them are beginning to realize that water features are fountains of opportunity.

Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs is president and CFO of Lifescapes International, a landscape architectural firm whose clients include Caruso, Triple Five, and Federal Realty Investment Trust. She can be reached at [email protected].

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