Nearly 30% of mall owners are adding apartments, offices or hotels to their properties according to a recent JLL survey. But, why are these owners seeking to creating a self-sustaining destinations?
Well, malls are working hard to rid the public of the perception that they are places solely for occasional shopping events – like the holidays. They are handpicking tenant mixes that cater to specific shoppers like millennials, luxury seekers, and those who want to shop local brands. Malls are also shedding their roofs, creating open spaces, and bringing other commercial uses to the mix to cultivate new communities and a live/work/play environments.
By adding these non-retail uses there is a halo effect created, driving new traffic to existing retailers. So now traditional mall owners are not just focusing just on retail, but are expanding by creating synergies with other uses. More than 40% of owners that have added a secondary use are including residential/multifamily units, but hotel and office uses were also popular picks with 33% and 26% uses take-up former retail space, albeit at a slower pace.
Retail real estate owner CBL Properties is a strong advocate of creating places that people can live, work and spend their free time in. As part of planned redevelopments, they are currently negotiating with six hotels, one apartment, two self-storage, a grocer and five entertainment concepts over 20,000 square feet across their portfolio of properties. Additionally, they recently announced a new initiative to further diversify the uses at their properties by adding medical office and office components.
CBL’s 1.1 million-square-foot Pearland Town Center outside of Houston, Texas has upwards of 25 apartment units, office space and a Courtyard by Marriott hotel above the retail. Additionally, they sold land to an apartment developer that built a 300+ unit complex adjacent to the property.
To further activate former retail space, sometimes malls dedicate spaces to their communities. About 20% of the malls surveyed created new areas for children’s play areas and/or open green spaces.
The Shops at Foothills in Fort Collins, Colorado, hits multiple marks with its new Foothills Activity Center that has youth and adult sports programming and early education activities, and has dedicated the East Lawn, a grassy area in the center of The Shops, that puts on free concerts and other outdoor events. The property went through a rebirth in 2015 when Alberta Development Partners invested $313 million into the project. Portions were demolished and rebuilt with more square footage dedicated to the creation of a shopping, dining and entertainment district that revitalized a mall.
Key aspects of renovation:
- Connectivity: New rooftop patios accessible to the public, spaces for concerts and events including a farmer’s market and a skating pond during the summer and winter months, respectively; improved pedestrian networks to enhance connectivity both between sections of the mall and the surrounding neighborhood
- Foothills Activity Center: A $5.8 million recreation center that will offer child development, youth and adult sports, fitness and dance programs
- Notable retailers: Cinemark Movie Bistro, Smashburger, Yoga Pod, The Hop Grenade, and Nordstrom Rack