Shoppers open-air retail

Retail is Going Open-Air

Shoppers can expect to see more open-air lifestyle centers than closed-in, windowless malls, thanks to a rising trend in retail redevelopment. Malls from coast-to-coast are being repositioned as open-air, walkable retail plazas. These more pedestrian-friendly shopping areas offer more of a “main street” experience, including outdoor public spaces, and provide a wider mix of services, from big anchor tenants to health clubs to specialty grocers.

In Arlington, Virginia, Ballston Mall is preparing for an enormous transformation from aging shopping mall to a modern center with open-air plazas and 323,000 square feet of retail space. Active streetscapes are inviting to shoppers and engage community with street-entry stores and restaurants and alfresco dining options from sidewalk to terrace to rooftop.

Developer Forest City engaged in a public-private partnership with Arlington County, which plans to contribute $10 million to the project, including parking and transportation improvements around the mall. The $317 million project also includes a new 22-story, 406-unit apartment building.

Making the renovation most official? A new brand: the center will now be known as Ballston Quarter.

Development magazine recently profiled malls that are being repositioned, including The Bloc in downtown Los Angeles. Developer The Ratkovich Company is literally removing the roof off of an existing mall, creating a three-level retail plaza for upscale retail, culinary attractions, and art installations and performances. Integrated in the full-city block project is a state of the art hotel and a 700,000-square-foot office tower.

Among the biggest mall redevelopments currently underway is the Centre of Tallahassee, where Blackwater Resources is preparing to open the first of a multi-phase project at the 95-acre Tallahassee Mall. Roofs were shorn and walkways converted into cobblestone pedestrian streets, and new features include an entertainment venue, an urban park, and plentiful restaurants and stores – three-quarters of the space is already leased. Located just off Florida’s busy I-10, the development is situated on the largest single parcel of land on the North Monroe Corridor – in what the Tallahassee Democrat calls “a blighted area thirsty for development.”

CoStar reports that Taubman Centers Inc. cancelled plans for an enclosed regional mall in Miami to pursue an open-air concept, and Kimco Realty Corp. is set to redevelop Baltimore’s Owings Mills Mall.

Is your company engaged in or considering taking on a mall redevelopment? Tell Market Share readers all about it in the comments.

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