FEATURE ARTICLE, DECEMBER 2009
TOP 5 WAYS TO REVITALIZE AN AGING SHOPPING CENTER IN A RECESSION
Owners will discover that revitalization opportunities range from very cost effective and minimally invasive solutions to approaches that will allow them to completely reinvent a center.
1. Clearly Quantify the Challenges the Retail Center is Facing — In this initial phase, the discussion should be less focused on design and more targeted towards identifying the market strategy — both marketing and business needs — most appropriate to achieve the desired goal.
2. Establish the Extent of the Remodel/Reposition — In any market, especially during a recession, the solution needs to produce the greatest positive impact while utilizing the least resources possible.
3. Area Development Enhancements — Because the existing structure is not impacted at all, this approach is the least invasive and requires a relatively nominal investment for a substantial improvement in the shopping experience. Examples: new blade signs and banners; new site furnishings, such as benches and bollards; and/or staining concrete surfaces.
4. Districting — Aiming to identify new tenanting concepts, this marketing approach is suited for centers with significant amounts of un-leased shop space. These districts can be anything from a collection of tenants themed around a specific market sector, such as stores that cater to children or a lineup of sports-oriented retailers. The key here is to support the district with appropriate design solutions, allowing the environment to be the anchor for the decided tenant lineup (e.g., for a children’s retail zone, the outdoor area development could include play zones, interactive water features and shaded areas for parents to relax and watch children).
5. Extensive Remodeling — This solution is best suited for “broken” centers, where the basic shopping environment does not lend itself to the current expectations of shoppers and visitors. Many aging shopping centers in demographic areas where newer, high-end centers dominate the local market find themselves in this position. This approach first entails stripping off the continuous canopies and taking the facades back to their bare bones. From that base, interest and scale through new façade treatments, variations in height and storefront features can be achieved. While the most costly of all the above solutions, this reinvention of a retail destination will allow it to have a competitive position relative to newer centers in the area.
Greg Lyon is the design principal at Nadel Architects in Los Angeles.
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