Retail News Digest for Monday, March 14, 2011

Comings and goings:

Other retail news:

  • An article on Bloomberg.com investigates the growing trend of putting grocery and upscale/foodie vendors in malls.  The grocery thing isn’t new, though.  Early malls frequently had a grocery store anchor, and most closed by the 1970s-1980s.   Malls in other parts of the world, even Canada, often currently feature a grocery anchor.  It’s neat that the trend is coming back though, because I’m not entirely sure why it left.
  • According to WSB-TV in Atlanta, the Atlantic Station project will be changing from a ‘mall feel’ to be ‘more like Atlanta’.  I’m not sure exactly what this means, but they plan to retenant about 25% of the development and give it a more local, personalized feel.
  • Westfield’s Warner Center development is underway in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. When complete, the area will be a new ‘downtown’ node for the area, if not for the entire valley.
  • According to The Atlantic, Facebook.com will be the mall of the future.  Is this entirely a new idea?  On one hand, many people do spend an inordinate amount of time surfing Facebook, but does aggregating online retail purchases from many sites into one somehow completely usurp bricks-and-mortar establishments?  I think being able to go to a store and physically feel merchandise will always be the trump card for keeping actual retail stores in business in many sectors.
  • A blogger on Allbusiness.com explores the implications of sameness in malls across the country, and the reasons why fewer local stores exist in malls today.
  • Maplewood Mall in the suburban Twin Cities is getting a much-needed renovation to compete with Goliath, also known as the Mall of America.

101 Responses to “Retail News Digest for Monday, March 14, 2011”

  1. I’m in agreement about bricks and mortar, though I imagine the readers of this blog are a biased sample on the whole :)

    We’ve taken to ordering almost all of our stuff online, be it groceries (we love Harris Teeter’s Express Lane service) or…miscellaneous (we also love Amazon Prime!) It’s been a huge relief to claim our weekends back from the Errands Monster, and we save money overall.

    But maybe twice a month, I go out to the stores. Maybe I want to buy clothes for work, and I just hate waiting for something to ship from the retailer, then trying it on, then sending it back because it doesn’t fit, then waiting for the replacement to ship….and so on. Or maybe my son has a birthday party to go to and I want to make sure the gift I’m buying is age-appropriate, and it can be hard to tell from website descriptions. Or maybe I just want to go out there into the marketplace and *shop.*

    [Reply]

    Prange Way Reply:

    @stacy, Yeah, I think those last needs you mention will never truly be sated by online retail. Unless, of course, we develop a really intricate sci-fi form of virtual reality, or something.

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  2. OK..today on Martinsburg, West Virginia’s “Talk Radio WRNR 740 AM on their program “Eastern Panhandle Talks:”..both Macy’s and Nordstrom are coming to the Martinsburg Mall by May 2012 as well as non-stop flights to Denver, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Kansas City from Martinsburg’s Eastern Panhandle Regional Airport thanks to Southwest Airlines.

    Funny how NOBODY is reporting this ( Not Southwest, Macy’s or Nordstrom ).but WRNR-AM 740 IS?

    Go figure !!!!!

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    Cathy Jones Reply:

    Martinsburg, West Virginia’s WRNR-AM 740 and WICL “Oldies 95.9″/WEPM-AM 1340 both get money from the town of Martinsburg so whatever it is “reported” by these stations gotta take it with a grain of salt.

    YES Berkeley County and Martinsburg are fast growing communities in West Virginia…but then again we ARE talking about West Virginia where only 100 people moving into ONE community equals..well “fast growing”. Sorry but that is the way it is.

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    Prange Way Reply:

    @Boyd, That all sounds like a big joke. There’s no way Martinsburg could support any of that.

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    Gary Reply:

    @Prange Way, I don’t believe that at all either, I think the Apple Blossom Mall in nearby Winchester has a better chance getting a Macy’s (Nordstrom already has two locations within an hour distance) than Martinsburg Mall, which is dying.

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    Cathy Jones Reply:

    @Gary, actually Winchester, VA’s Apple Blossom Mall DID come close to getting a Macy’s some years back. Here was the deal. Before Macy’sof course there was Hechts. Back in 1999 Leggetts was seriously considering closing their Winchester/Apple Blossom Mall store and in exchange Hechts was going to move in. It was assumed to be such a done deal that Hechts was already advertising on local radio at the time such as local 92.5 WINK-FM. However Leggetts for some unknown reason had “changed their minds” so they stayed in Winchester though later they woud become Belk.

    Still though I agree that Winchester would get a Macys before Macys before Martinsburg ( owner Simon has enough land to build one there ).

    Now in the past I have heard that Harrisonburg, VA “should” get a Macys. Problem..while Harrisonburg, VA is “larger” than Winchester on paper..Harrisonburg even the city itself is still rural ( one can still see cows near to their downtown ) and unlike Winchester where people communite to DC to work and make big bucks..Harrisonburg doesn’t have that so Winchester has the money to support Macys. Harrisonburg doesn’t even though, again on paper they are the bigger city. Besides those chicken plants around H’burg..well would you consider making $8.75 and hour “big” money?

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  3. Wonderful idea to add Target and Bloomingdale’s in Georgetown, for a couple of reasons. (1) Columbia Heights isn’t the best neighborhood to be in after dark, and when I lived in D.C., Columbia Heights was home to the District’s only Target. (2) The mall itself will benefit. The problem is that M Street and Wisconsin are already lined with upscale retailers and other retailers that you’d find in a thriving mall. While the Shops have a few well-known retailers, the majority of the stores are three star “mom-and-pop” places that can’t sustain a mall. And what the mall passes off as a food court was just a creepy tea garden, if I remember correctly.

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  4. Regarding MacArthur Center’s food court…I work 2 blocks away from the mall and can see it from my 7th floor office window. I was just over there yesterday to see it for myself. The stores closed over the weekend.

    The food court, 2 Starbucks, and a Hershey’s ice cream were run by HMS Host. The stores are boarded up and signage pulled down. The Hershey’s is turning into a Sakura sushi stand (hurray!) and a Panda Express is going in somewhere. All the other restaurants are staying put.

    It looks like the Starbucks in the food court is staying. The kiosk and signage is still there. It’s currently closed.

    I wouldn’t say the mall is dying. Forever 21 recently expanded into a flagship-type store, encompassing 2 floors across from the 2-floor Barnes & Noble (that serves as the local community college bookstore). It’s getting a Teavana and White House/Black Market is returning. There’s a ton of annoying vendors wanting to shove lotion into hands on the first floor.

    However, there are a lot of empty storefronts in prime locations in the mall. Plus the third anchor, originally slated for Macy’s, never materialized. It’s a muddy/grassy patch that hosts the temp ice rink in December.

    I think what hinders this mall is its downtown location. It’s close to the highway (264) and gets a lot of foot traffic during the M-F workweek. Shoppers have to pay for parking ($1 for first 3 hours, $2 after 6PM, validated at sit-down restaurants and theater). Unless there’s a specific movie I want to see with a friend I don’t go there after work hours. Plus there was a major outcry of “OMG that’s so UNFAIR!” when the mall banned teens from being dropped off at 5PM to wander about by themselves. Teens must have parents/supervision with them. I don’t know if any figures are available to show a definitive drop in revenue from the ban.

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    Prange Way Reply:

    @KittenPoker, Thanks for helping shed light on that. I visited MacArthur Center back in Summer 2008, and it was definitely one of the better Hampton Roads malls, so I was kind of shocked to hear the entire food court up and closed. I do remember some access pains from having it be in a dense, urban area, but that also has some positive implications too, like the foot traffic you mentioned. As for limiting access to youth, that can really be a boondoggle, but for the most part it makes sense to limit groups of teens who may only buy something at the food court, and who annoy older shoppers with fatter wallets right out of the mall.

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    Cathy Jones Reply:

    @Prange Way, I agree with you totally that MacArthur Center is one of the better Hampton Roads Malls..but oddly enough even though MacArthur is well over ten years old there are STILL folks in that region who actually WANT THIS MALL TO DIE !! Why? Because they fell that Hampton Roads is strictly a Walmart-Target-Sears-JC Penney type of area and they are not worthy of Dillard and Nordstrom.

    Its the same type of people who flood the Virginia Pilot newspaper’s website bashing the local light rail ( “..the CHOO-CHOO to nowhere hell” ), slam local WAVY and WVEC television for using choppers for their newscasts, begging Frontier Airlines to stop offering direct flights to Denver , etc..etc.. In other words they want Hampton Roads to go back to the “Tidewater days” of 1977 and just won’t accept the fact that they live in a metro area with a population of close to 2 million people

    I feel sorry for these people..

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    SEAN Reply:

    @Cathy Jones, I remember when Nordstrom opened there. many comments went along the lines of, this is not the place for a rich persons department stor. Go back to Washington DC where you belong! I forgot the exact quote, but it was close to what I just posted.

    My GF’s sister has been living in VA Beach since 1991 & told me that the idea of paying for parking at Macarthur Center was enough to make her avoid it.

    [Reply]

    Cathy Jones Reply:

    @SEAN, as I can recall Hampton Roads was the ONLY place in Nordstrom history where that chain had encounted “protestors”. Similar to Frontier Airlines and their nonstop flights to Denver from Newport News. The reason for those who had objected such flights was that the city of Denver, Colorado still allows those “gay bath houses” to exist .One of my best friends works for Frontier and when she had told me this and I was like, well “WTF”. Looking back now I wonder if all of this is connected to Pat Robertson and his 700 Club religious TV program which is based in nearby Virginia Beach and his followers. Not trying to start something at all but when you have people who are “upset” at such things such as Nordstrom being in their area ( and that chain is known to be gay friendly )..well it does make one wonder.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @Cathy Jones, I believe you are on the right track there. Ironic that the parent of Frontier is opperated by someone who is just as conservitive as Pat Robertson. His name escapes me at the moment, but I’ve sene him interviewed on 60 Minutes. In this interview he talks freely how the airline is opperated with christian prinsiples. I was like, yeah right. Is this a business or a cult

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @Cathy Jones, It wasBrian Bedford @ Republic Airways.

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  5. Robb & Stuckey: Too bad. Guess International Plaza and Bay Street needs another anchor now.

    Grocery: The mall mentioned was Old Orchard outdoor shopping center in Illinois. As for disappearance, grocery stores have had low profit margins.

    Facebook: The day Facebook adds a food court will be the day it overtakes the mall.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @Pseudo3D, That’s true reguarding grocery stores. However with companies like Trader Joes & some of the larger names out there trying new formats, grocers can give malls & lifestyle centers another shot.

    White Plains City Center a 1.1 Million sq ft mix-use residential complex recently opened a 75,000 sq ft ShopRight in a former Filene’s Basement.

    Within a few short blocks you will find at least a dozen condo & rentle apartment buildings including a Trump Tower & a Ritz Carlton hotel & residences, making it a no brainer to put a supermarket in that spot. Don’t be fooled by the fact that ShopRight being a “discount” grocer, it doesn’t feel or act as one. Mind you there’s a Whole Foods & a Stop & Shop 5-minutes away as well, so WP is well covered.

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    Pseudo3D Reply:

    @SEAN, no matter what grocery store it is, they’re all low-margin. Despite the fact that Whole Foods manages to make a pretty good profit for the industry, upscaling doesn’t create super profitability.

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    Rich Reply:

    @Pseudo3D, the examples in the article include non-enclosed malls like the recently demalled Sanata Monica Place. there are lifestyle centers with groceries, like Giant Eagle at Cleveland’s Legacy Place, for example, and super markets regularly go into large power centers. People shop supers more often than malls because grocery shopping tends to be part of the trip from home to work, which is different from the trips that motivate mall shopping. OTOH, people spend less time on a mall trip than in the past. Most likely they are going to a particular store or category of store. This is part of what led to the lifestyle center format, because the layout of those centers enables these trips better than malls. Whether a supermarket makes these increasingly short trips longer is an open question. Still, it’s “destination” stores that probably are most compatible with malls or even lifestyle centers–Wegman’s, Gelson’s, Ralph’s Fresh Fare, etc. Ordinary Safeway or kroger stores may be less attractive unless they happen to be pretty absent from a mall’s immediate trading area.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @Rich, Companies like Croger, Safeway & SuperValue can easily adapt stores to fit a lifestyle center Or a particular neighborhoods demos or physical demands. A few examples include…
    1. Safeway in Portland’s Pearl & University Districts. Stores were adapted to fit on 200 X 200 sq ft blocks with housing above each store.
    2. Ralph’s in the Marina District of San Diego. Store was built in an area that was in rapid growth mode during the housing boom a few years ago.
    3. ShopRite White Plains see above comment.
    4. Fairway a Manhattan based store that is in growth mode right now. Recently opened
    stores in both Pelham Manor NY & Stamford CT. Although 75,000 & 85,000 sq ft respectivly, all of there locations are lifestyle stores with counters for fresh & prepared foods as well as seating areas for a quick meal while shopping.

    Remember that not everyone wants to by groceries at a Wal-mart or Costco, nore is it nessessary to go there when you are just buying day to day items. However I do understand that supermarkets work on thin margins, but so do gas stations & how many stations are there in the US? a lot more than Supermarkets by a long shot.

    [Reply]

    Rich Reply:

    @SEAN, A few examples is not an overwhelming trend and you’re mixing examples in a weak attempt at defending your point. And store designs used in innercity neighborhoods are not necessarily adaptable to mall environments. Lifestyle centers are basically adaptations of 1950s strip center design and of course a supermarket can be fitted to that. One of the problems with malls is that unlike neighborhoods, there’s nothing organic about them which is why they tend to become major white elephants very quickly when they begin to decline. There are reasons that super markets gradually got pushed to the side and then into convenience wings and outlots. If they had been successful parts of malls they would have continued to survive. Instead, they haven’t even survived as outlot tenants. they did not build volume or have sufficient volume of their own to survive. They may make more sense for a lifestyle center.

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  6. I had no idea The Shops at Georgetown Park was even in trouble.

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  7. More like Atlanta? Have they seen the rest of Atlanta? Instead of a mall they want a dirty nasty craphole with a few scattered gems? I think they should stick with the mallsy feel. Atlantic Station is a nice place just like it is.

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  8. One of the reasons that grocery stores are coming back to malls is because many malls are desparate for sales and since most people are cutting back on buying stuff they don’t need, it would be better to have stores that people can buy something that they actually need. Also, the number of department stores shrank drastically since 2006, meaning that malls that would have had 5 or more anchors need a store that would bring in cash.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @jkcole, The reason the number of dept. stores shrank was because of macys merging many of their divisions and taking over may company. I live in New York and we lost many choices because of macys. Macysthinks everybody loves them and iam not crazy about the quality they were better years ago.

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  9. BORDERS is closing 28 more stores. 7 are in California.

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  10. Grocery in a mall would never happen in Phoenix. It is one of the most competitive grocery markets in the country, with four full-service chains (Fry’s/Kroger, Safeway, Albertson’s (Supervalu) and Bashas’ (local institution)) plus Walmart. Then there are tons of smaller players, such as Target, Whole Foods, fresh&easy (Tesco), Trader Joe’s, the regional Sprouts Farmers Market, Smart and Final, plus Hispanic markets like Bashas’ Food City chain. WinCo Foods from Idaho wants in, too. It is somewhat common to find two or three grocers on a busy corner – one such spot has Trader Joe’s, Safeway, AND Fry’s Marketplace.

    With the economy, some grocery outlets have closed. I know of two or three near me that have been closed, converted into big box partly or fully, or are just sitting vacant.

    This article should give you a sense of the chaos of Arizona grocery:

    http://www.azcentral.com/business/articles/2011/03/06/20110306supermarket-rivals-drugstores-merchandisers-groceries.html

    [Reply]

    Pseudo3D Reply:

    @Raymie, wow, that’s more than even Houston. Houston has four full-service (Kroger, H-E-B, Fiesta, and Randalls), Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, Food Town, Rice Epicurean, and a few others I may not have mentioned, like smaller Mexican/ethnic grocery stores.

    There used to be Albertsons, AppleTree (the original Safeway which broke off and quickly started to disintegrate), Auchan, and Super Kmart, and that’s all in the 2000s.

    Randalls is currently owned by Safeway, but they mismanaged it (very much like Dominick’s in Chicago).

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  11. Within an, oh, three mile radius of me, there are two Fry’s stores, two Fresh and Easy outlets, a Whole Foods, a Bashas’, a Sam’s Club, and an Albertson’s. Go to five miles and you also get Trader Joe’s, Safeway, additional Fry’s and Albertson’s stores, another Bashas’, a Walmart Supercenter, another Costco…

    Where Walmart has been on a building spree in other places, it’s CVS and Walgreens. I know of at least one dead CVS near me (they built two others to the north and south) – it’s just sitting there, prime retail space.

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  12. Kmart’s presence in PHX petered out as they went through Ch. 11 in the early 2000s. My local Kmart is now a JCPenney!

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  13. Is anyone shocked by this?

    Closings Loom as Sears Holdings Continues to Struggle
    Mar 23, 2011 11:02 AM, By Elaine Misonzhnik

    RETAIL TRAFFIC

    While the retail industry’s attention in recent weeks has been focused on Borders’ Chapter 11 filing, there is another retail giant with a massive store portfolio that may be raising alarm bells in the near future.

    For years now, Sears Holdings Corp. has been reporting declining sales at both its Sears and Kmart stores. Most recently, in the firm’s fiscal 2010, same-store sales fell 1.6 percent—dropping 3.6 percent at Sears and rising 0.7 percent Kmart. It was just the latest annual decline for the firm. Same-store sales fell 5.1 percent in 2009, 8 percent in 2008, 4.3 percent in 2007 and 3.7 percent in 2006. During that time span, Sears Holdings’ net sales dropped by nearly $10 billion, from $53.0 billion in 2006 to $43.3 billion last year.

    Yet the firm survived the recession while many others failed. But the two brands have continually struggled to find a niche in the retail sector and ceded market share for years.

    Observers questioned the tie-up of the two firms from the beginning and many still wonder whether the brands can survive long term. To a large extent, that might depend on what Sears Holdings decides to do with its real estate, according to five retail and retail real estate consultants interviewed by Retail Traffic. (Sears Holdings declined to comment.)

    In spite of its lackluster performance, the Sears chain has several things going for it, including a well-known name and several well-respected consumer brands, including Craftsman tools and Kenmore appliances. If Sears Holdings puts more emphasis on its hard goods and either cuts down or improves its apparel offerings, it has a good chance of reinventing itself, says Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a New Canaan, Conn.-based retail consulting firm. In order to do so, however, Johnson notes Sears would have to shed about a third of its stores.

    There appears to be less hope for the Kmart chain, which has failed to gain any market share in the discount game over the past decade against formidable competitors like Target and Walmart. Overall, Sears Holdings ranks as the ninth largest retailer in the U.S. by annual revenue—a steep drop after occupying the No. 1 slot for many years up to the 1990s.

    As of January 2011, Sears Holdings operated about 3,500 stores in the U.S. The most valuable of these include 908 so-called “broadline” Sears stores, which are based in some of the best malls in the country. In addition, the company operates 1,287 specialty Sears stores, which are either freestanding or located in neighborhood shopping centers and 60 Sears Essentials stores, also a freestanding concept.

    There are also about 1,306 Kmart stores located across the U.S., Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Kmart stores are usually one-level freestanding buildings averaging 93,000 square feet in size.

    Unlike Sears stores, most of the Kmarts are positioned in weaker locations in secondary markets, notes Jeff Greep, president of Jeff Green Partners, a Phoenix-based real estate consulting firm.

    The consensus among the experts Retail Traffic spoke to is that this portfolio is too large to allow Sears Holdings to run a profitable retail operation. The good news is that observers believe a sizable portion of the stores can be subleased. The firm occupies locations at some of the best malls in the country. Sears Holdings owns many of the sites outright and has long-term leases at below-market rents on others.

    “They have very desirable real estate, there is no question about that,” says George Whalin, founder of Retail Management Consultants, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based consulting firm. “When they started building those stores in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were spaces available that aren’t available today. That real estate will be very desirable for retailers that are looking to expand.”

    The question going forward will be whether there is enough demand to fill all of the spaces that get put back on the market. There are few expanding retailers and many available boxes at power centers today, which would cut into the potential pool of tenants to backfill excess Sears space, says Green. That might mean that some landlords will be left with empty anchor spaces if Sears Holdings does opt to shut locations.

    Clean-up job

    For the fiscal year 2010, ended Jan. 29, Sears Holdings reported that revenues declined $717 million, to $43.3 billion.

    In his letter to shareholders, dated Feb. 24, Sears Holdings chairman Eddie Lampert acknowledged that the chains’ performance remains unacceptable and announced new initiatives to help drive sales in soft goods, including the launch of a Sofia Vergara fashion line at Kmart and UK Style by French Connection and the Kardashion Kollection lines at Sears.

    Around the same time, Lampert announced the appointment of Lou D’Ambrosio, a former IMB executive and CEO of telecom equipment company Avaya, as the company’s new CEO. D’Ambrosio’s lack of experience with retail operations or, in fact, with any direct-to-consumer business, makes it seem like Lampert is looking to revamp the retailer’s entire business model, says Johnson.

    That model is likely to focus on further cutting down the cost of doing business and whenever possible, subleasing unprofitable stores to other retailers, according to Whalin. Sears has already started doing this in 2010, first signing a deal with apparel seller Forever 21 for a 43,000-square-foot space at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif. and then a deal with Whole Foods for a 34,000-square-foot store in Greensboro, N.C.

    In his letter to shareholders, Lampert indicated the company was seeking more third party retailers to lease its underperforming stores. In all, it closed 34 Kmart and full-line Sears stores in fiscal 2010.

    Though Sears Holdings is behind many other department store chains in trying to trim its portfolio, ultimately the strategy is the right one, says Cynthia Groves, senior managing director of global corporate services with real estate services firm Newmark Knight Frank. She believes both Sears and Kmart have staying power, but need to drastically downsize their fleets.

    “They are realizing that they have to look at their store size, the way the stores are configured, the number of their units,” she notes. “Lampert will use the real estate to turn the retail around. They go hand-in-hand.”

    Real estate play

    Given that many of Sears’ broadline stores are located in markets with high barriers to entry the company shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding takers for those units, says James Bieri, CEO and president of the Bieri Co., a Detroit, Mich.-based real estate consulting firm. Some of the same retailers that are expected to backfill Borders’ locations—Forever 21, Costco and Target—might jump at the chance to lease Sears locations, especially since it will save them the trouble of paying for a full store build-out.

    Likewise, some of the Kmart stores might be picked up by discount concepts like Big Lots and Salvation Army, Bieri notes. In many cases, Kmart pays single-digit rents, so if an alternate retailer wants to be in a given market, it might be possible to sublease those stores.

    The problem is that demand for new space is still out of whack with the amount of vacancies available in the market, says Green. Plus, a chain like Forever 21 would only want to sublease the space from Sears if there are a lot of years left on the original lease. In some cases, however, Sears will be facing expiring leases on underperforming stores and it will be forced to exit the property without providing the landlord with a new anchor.

    “My professional gut is that they are at least 25 percent too large a company,” notes Green. Subleasing their stores, however, “definitely won’t take care of their entire portfolio. There are not that many alternate users out there, especially given the fact that so many power centers have abundance of vacancy.”

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I agree Sean, see you said Lord and Taylor is one nail in the coffin at Palisades noway it will be Sears especially in Nanuet. What they shouldl do maybe take over kids city and make it a Sears appliance and tool store which Palisades does not have. It will give them more sales on those items. They are stuck with too much winter merchandise in Nanuet probably more so than Paramus Park.I do not Know how Sears in Nanuet stays open. As I said before their apparel and shoes are horrible over J.C PENNEY. j,c Penney is ten times better than Sears.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, If Lord & Taylor leaves Palisades, the nail in the coffen is the fact who ever ends up taking that space is likely to be either Sears or Kohl’s. Neither retailer has the drawing power of L & T.

    I saw your Nanuet responce.

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    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I told you I keep in touch with my former coworkers at Palisades Lord and Taylor they are not closing there. Kohls is already on rte 59 in Nanuet they wont move to Palisades, they are not in many malls mostly shopping centers. The only Kohls I know in a mall is in Newporte Mall in Jersey City. If Sears were to gid rid of selling clothes and shoes they should open an appliance and tool store in the former krazy city space in Palisades.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, How well is that L & T store doing & how has it change sinceNRDC baught the company.

    I just realized in the worst case NRDC could bring in the Canadian retailer The Bay wich they also own.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, They make their plans not as high as Paramus but they would not have lasted for 13 years so far. I worked there so I know how they do. We would have lost all Lord and Taylors if NRDC DIDNT take them off Macys. Macys was planning to get rid of Lord and Taylor after federated bought may dept. stores Again Macys almost took away another department store if it wasnt for nrdc.The quality of Lord and taylors private labels are very good and are very popular insales of shoes and dresses.so here are my grades of palisades anchors LORD AND TAYLOR A-, MACYS C- J.CPENNEY B TARGET C BURLINGTON D.

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    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, What do you know about The Bay the Canadian department store that NRDC also owns. How do they compare to L & T. Also could The Bay work in some parts of the US such as the northeast, pacific northwest & urban parts of the midwest like Chicago?

    If Sears is in that much trubble, stores may need to be closed & The Bay could fill some locations.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I have no idea about Bay department store. NRDC OWNS Lord and Taylor for five years now and they just remodled the FIFTH Avenue storeand that location only carries bedding , crystal china dept. They really did a nice job on the Lord and Taylor in Manhattan. AS I said we wouldnt have Lord and Taylor if it wasnt for NRDC.

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    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, i JUST LOOKED UP what Bay dept stores are full line stores like Macys or maybe Kohls,

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    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, You think Bay could work here in the states? Trying to see if this could solve a problem before it happens, namely the closure of some Sears locations. This would work well in cold climate metro areas where there signature products like hevy winter coats & down blankets would be hot sellers. Also they could give Macy’s & Kohl’s a run for their money.

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    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I really dont know if they would male a go if it here. Lets see first what happens with Sears. If Sears were to close locations there would be an empty anchorr store in many malls from Poughkeepsie to Connecticut to New Jersey and Long Island. i tell you some KMARTS are so old and run down especially the one in Westwood N.j.I dont think they can compete with Target and Walmart.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob,

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, The Greenburgh NY Kmart is know prize either. It was one of the original Caldor stores in Westchester.

    I don’t think Sears would close that many stores around here, but Garden City, Nanuett & white Plains could be on the hit list do to other locations being close by. I like your idea of creating a hard goods only Sears & dump all soft product lines.

    As for Kmart NO location in my opinion is safe at this point.

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, Oh i responded to your clarkstown question its under the Nanuet MALL .

    [Reply]

  14. Big-Box Giants Downsize to Drive Productivity with Smaller, Urban Stores
    Mar 30, 2011 8:06 AM, By Elaine Misonzhnik

    As U.S. chain retailers absorb the lessons of the Great Recession, many big-box chains have started to shrink average store footprints to reflect the growing importance of multi-channel shopping, adapt to urban settings and recognize the need to optimize portfolios.

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., Best Buy Co. Inc. and Gap Inc., among others, all have small concepts in the works or are adapting existing ones. These smaller store formats should allow the retailers to maximize profitability and open more stores in closer proximity to each other, say three retail consultants and a retail real estate broker Retail Traffic spoke to.

    Wal-Mart Stores and Target have been the most high-profile examples of this trend.

    To view a gallery of eight chains emphasizing smaller concepts, click here.
    In 2011, Wal-Mart Stores plans to open between 30 and 40 smaller format stores, representing a combination of its Walmart Market and Walmart Express units, according to a company spokesman. Walmart Express stores will measure up to 30,000 square feet and will focus on grocery products and a limited selection of general merchandise. The company is already working on two Walmart Express stores in Chicago and three in Northwest Arkansas.

    Walmart Market stores, a rebranded version of Walmart Neighborhood Markets, average 40,000 square feet in size and concentrate on grocery products.

    Meanwhile, on Feb. 15, Target Corp. unveiled its CityTarget concept, with stores ranging from 60,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet. Full-line Target stores range from 128,000 square feet to 135,000 square feet.

    The CityTarget stores will carry a reduced, optimized product selection and will be located in densely populated urban markets—the company is looking at a minimum of 50,000 people living within two miles of the stores, according to a Target spokesperson. Target plans to open four CityTarget stores in 2012, in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco, and is exploring opportunities in additional areas of the country.

    “Based on extensive research, we knew that our brand was very appealing to an urban demographic,” says Target’s spokesperson. “So we had a goal to better reach those urban areas and what’s really great is the flexibility of this format.”

    The turn towards smaller, urban stores also comes at a time when the outlook for power centers remains clouded, providing further impetus for big-box chains to diversify real estate strategies.

    On March 24, during its fourth quarter 2010 earnings call with analysts, executives with the electronics chain Best Buy talked about how at the same time that the company is slowing growth in the big-box segment, it will step up expansion of its smaller Best Buy Mobile stores. In 2011, the retailer plans to open 150 mobile stores, giving it a total of 325 by the end of the year. Best Buy Mobile stores range from 1,300 square feet to 3,000 square feet, a fraction of full-line Best Buy stores, which range from 20,000 square feet to 45,000 square feet in size.

    Meanwhile, Gap Inc. is shrinking the average size of its Old Navy stores from about 25,000 square feet to approximately 10,000 square feet, according to Ivan L. Friedman, president and CEO of RCS Real Estate Advisors, a New York City-based retail real estate consulting firm. In addition, many supermarket chains, including Giant Eagle, Trader Joe’s, Publix and Fresh Market, have been pursuing smaller formats for several years now.

    And last year, the Sports Authority launched a smaller, more upscale concept called S.A. Elite. S.A. Elite stores will range from 12,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet and will focus on higher-end products from many of the same brands found at full-line Sports Authority stores. The company plans to pursue locations on urban streets and in high-end malls for this new concept. Full-line Sports Authority stores are about 40,000 square feet.

    “Retailers looking for smaller footprints has been a trend since the recession started,” says Cynthia Groves, senior managing director of global corporate services with Newmark Knight Frank, a real estate services firm. “From a real estate perspective, what’s important to a retailer is they have to make their sales per square foot. The recession made them realize that they can get by with smaller square footage and have strong sales as a result.”

    Bang for your buck

    Many chain store operators have taken a cue from Apple Inc.’s successful retail operation, says Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates Inc., a New York City-based retail consulting and investment banking firm. Even in the midst of the worst retailing year in recent history in 2009, Apple’s stores, which average 6,000 square feet and are located primarily in high-end malls and on high traffic urban thoroughfares, reported average sales of several thousand dollars per square foot.

    What’s more, Apple’s strategy of stocking only a limited number of products in its physical stores has helped reduce its real estate costs and created synergy between its brick-and-mortar and online sales channels, Davidowitz notes. Customers come to Apple’s physical locations to test-drive new gadgets, but they then have the option to get items shipped to them directly from Apple’s warehouses. This helps drive business both in-store and on the web, a critical goal for many retailers today, according to Groves.

    In addition, the discounters Wal-Mart and Target face increasing competition from the dollar store chains, many of which already operate smaller stores in urban markets and are able to beat the giants on productivity, he adds.

    “What these big retailers realized is that these smaller stores are more convenient and the economics of running them are better,” Davidowitz says. “With a scaled-down selection, you can get a huge return on investment, mainly because of lower expenses and lower investment in each store.”

    Part of the rationale for expanding through smaller units has been logistics—it would be virtually impossible to find 200,000 contiguous square feet of retail space in the middle of Manhattan, so big-box chains have no choice but to downsize to enter certain markets.

    But another benefit of operating smaller stores is that the strategy allows a retailer to potentially open more stores within the same trade area, promoting its brand, according to Matt Winn, managing director of retail consulting with Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate services firm. Since the smaller units can carry only a limited selection of merchandise, retailers can cut down on cannibalization by stocking up on different products in stores that are located in close proximity.

    “Depending on the concept, that could be a very smart strategy because it allows people, as they think of your brand, to see that you are on the next corner,” Winn notes.

    Cost vs. return

    Smaller stores might not necessarily translate into lower real estate costs, however. In many of the urban markets the retailers are targeting, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, the sky-high rents per square foot will likely minimize any savings on overall real estate costs, Friedman says. A smaller specialty retailer might be able to save on common area maintenance (CAM) charges by opening smaller stores, but big box anchor tenants like Target and Wal-Mart normally pay rents based on percentage of sales and would not realize significant savings by pursuing smaller units in large cities.

    Instead, the name of the game will be sales productivity. Locations in high density urban markets draw tremendous foot traffic, Friedman notes. The combination of smaller footprint and higher traffic should help drive average sales per square foot.

    “If you have that much traffic, you can afford those astronomical rents,” Friedman says.

    The challenge is that many of the big-box operators have limited experience opening stores in urban markets. Their strategy up till now has been cookie-cutter, notes Davidowitz—most are used to operating stores in formats with very clearly defined square footage and layout criteria. In cities like New York, that will no longer be possible. The retailers will have to adjust to working with a multitude of different layouts and size configurations, to devote more time to securing zoning permits and to coexist with non-retail co-tenants. What’s more, site selection will have to be much more precise than it has been for multi-tenant suburban shopping centers.

    “Urban real estate requires a whole different mindset,” Davidowitz says. “The whole idea of ‘I am going to get an exact prototype,’ which is the way chain stores have always grown, is out the window. Your position on the block can make or break you in New York and which corner you are on can make a difference of 25 percent in your sales. Urban real estate is a whole new world, which they are going to have to learn.”

    Remarks.

    Well duh! When you keep opening bigger & bigger stores in the suburbs, this is the problem you will face eventually do to oversaturation. City land parcels tend to be both smaller & tighter then there suburban counterparts, requiring innovative thinking for continuous growth. This is well beyond the comfort zone for several chains like Wal-mart & Target.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, On South Hills Malls website photos of how dead that mall is which is in Poughkeepsie next to the galleria. That mall is like Nanuet, has Burlington K-Mart, and Shop- Rite was formerly Price Chopper Supermarket. Before Poughkeepsie Galleria was built it was the only major mall Sears was there before they moved to the galleria Dutchess Mall was torn down after Jamesway closed was formerly Mays.Years ago THAT was a thriving mall when Mays AND Service Merchandise were there.So I guess Dutchess County has had it share of retail ups and downs like Rockland.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, That’s really true. Interestingly the Poughkeepsie Galleria is more or less a smaller version of Pallisades without the waisted space since it’s all pyramid. Same for Galleria @ Crystal Run in Middletown.

    [Reply]

    mallguy Reply:

    @SEAN, Except for the really, really ugly late 80s-early 90s tile and decor, it is very eerie how much the Galleria at Crystal Run looks and is set up like the Poughkeepsie Galleria!

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @mallguy, So true Poughkeepsie Galleria looks the same as when I used to shop there when i lived in Fishkill. The mall is 24 years old it opened in 1987 it could use a rennovation job . They are owned by pyramid company who owns Palisades Center and they could use a rennovation job and they are only open 13 years.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, The only things that got renovated at Poughkeepsie Galleria were the Regal/ Hoyts Cinemas 16, Wards,Leachmere & the space that’s now Target.

    At Crystal Run the Things Remembered space became mall access to the enormous tact on Target. Also the Loews 10-plex was expanded to 16-screens when Filenes Basement closed. as it turned out, Filenes Basement really was in the basement.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, Oh I know I saw what they did at the galleria, I was there once after they opened Target and the movie theatre. I havent been up there in 6 years after my family moved to North Carolina. What I can see it looks the same as I said its 24 years old and pyramid should give it an updated look, but what AM i saying they wont even improve Palisades MALL. interior.

    [Reply]

    mallguy Reply:

    @rob, I was actually referring to Galleria at Crystal Run in terms of the uglier mall…and Poughkeepsie Galleria isn’t too gorgeous either. First visited PG in the 90s when I was looking at colleges up there, then again, went 2 1/2 years ago when I had a conference at Marist. Outside of taking the out the waterfalls/fountains near JCPenney and the stores you mentioned, I didn’t notice much difference. Those canvas galleria style roofs have got to go!

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @mallguy, Hudson Valley Mall in Kingston is the worst of the Pyramid malls in that area. It is a single story sprawlling center with low ceelings, little natural light & way to many kiosks.

    All the same anchors at Poughkeepsie Galleria & Crystal Run can be found at Hudson Valley, but this mall has a distinctive 70s feel.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, The radio station wcram1300 had an article interviewing Gromack he said the plans for Nanuet Mall will be announced soon. So here we go again they tell us January or February so they dont know themselves. What they said they are trying to kick out Sears and Macys.I dont know why Macys cant give it up its an old mall and dead its probably not worth much because they own it. They have a more updated store at Palisades, Macys is such a greedy company.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, If you get a chance take a trip to Livingston Mall in NJ. It is similar to Nanuet Mall in both age & layout, but Livingston is thriving based on my visit there today.

    There’s so few empty stores I could count them on one hand & yet the Mall at Short Hills has numerous vacancies. I wouldn’t worry so much about Short Hills though, they are still a force to be reccond with. Cheesecake Factory will be opening around July in the former Johnny Rockets.

    [Reply]

    mallguy Reply:

    @SEAN, Livingston Mall was actually renovated two years ago (and frankly, I didn’t think it needed it). It is a more mainstream mall than Short Hills and attracts shoppers from eastern Morris Co, southwest Essex Co and northern Union Co. They need to get a restaurant to occupy the former Applebee’s.

    Short Hills is also getting XXI Forever. Both Short Hills and Livingston have successfully co-existed for years.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @mallguy, Last time I was at Livingston Mall I thaught it was time for a renovation, if only a cosmetic one. It looks like a brand new building except for the drop ceelings wich are a design feature of 1960s/ 70s malls.

    I always new that Taubman malls tended to have a slightly elevated vacancy rate, but this took me by surprise. Even the enormous GAP store near Bloomingdale’s closed I wonder if that is where XXI Forever will open.

    mallguy Reply:

    @SEAN, In the early 1990s, Livingston Mall underwent a very much needed total renovation: glass atrium gates and brass rails replaced concerete, galleria style skylights and a central court domed skylight replaced the drop ceilings and small skylights, new marble flooring replaced terra cotta style brick flooring, new lighting replaced 70s globe, “park-style” floor lamps, and a central court staircase and fountain were built. This renovation was definitely needed, as since the mall was built until that renovation, it was dark and dingy in there.

    The 2008 renovation was more cosmetic in nature, as opposed to overhaul. The fountain and staircase were replaced by a glass elevator and new marble floor, new paintjob, ceramic tiles on the bottom floor and brown carpeting on the top floor, soft seating areas and what looks like more florescent lighting, as opposed to iridescent lighting (which was pretty bright, as it was). Personally, I think the mall is not as aesthetically pleasing as it once was.

    What I am glad they did was build the food court near Macy’s out of an old World Foot Locker and they added a Barnes and Noble next to the center court entrance.

    In Short Hills, Gap has moved closer to where the Limited was and is more subdivided than what was there. XXI Forever and Cheesecake Factory will go in the space that is now vacant. Upstairs next to Gucci, they are building a well-known boutique (which I can’t remember the name of) and it absorbed small store space. Most of those stores are relocating to other areas of the mall or have temporary space. To say the least, there is a lot of shuffling going on and Short Hills is fine. Personally, I’m bummed that they demolished one of their fountains (the one formerly next to the elevator adjacent to Saks).

    Interesting thing about Short Hills is that if the space does not produce a profit right away, it is gone. I’ve seen this on more than one occasion. Believe it or not, there is a long waiting list to get into Short Hills.

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I dont drive so I wouldnt be able to get to Livingston mall. I saw the mall on utube I know its been rennovated see why is Simon rennovating a mall that doesnt need it who should be worrying about Nanuet. Its a nice looking mall but what do you expect most malls in New Jersey are nice. Having Lord AND TAYLOR THERE HELPS I do not think Sears draws in the crowds and they have decent shops. They are so full of it Simon Property all they worry about their money making malls. I really do not think they want to bother competing with Palisades and Paramus.that is why they are dragging their feet

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, It may take you a while on NJ Transit, but it is doable.

    1. Take either PVL or MBL trains to Secaucus Junction.
    2. Take M & E lines from Secaucus to Summit Station & exit toward Maple Street.
    3. Look for the bus stop shelter & board Route 70, (sign reads Livingston Mall.) This bus will stop at Mall at Short Hills before reaching Livingston Mall.

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, Thanks for the instructions of getting to Livingston Mall, but its too much of a trip when i live near 5 malls. I can see from utube what Livingston mall looks like. Im just stating on how Simon is they take care of their money making malls . What I said before this reply about what they are doing with Nanuet.they just dont give a damm something could have been done shortly after Palisades opened not 13 years after the mall opened. The economy was still in good shape after Palisades opened.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, Well at least I tried.

    The only thing I take issue in your last post is that all real estate companies will maintain there prized assets & let there others fall into disrepair or give them to someone else who may bring new life into them. This is not a Simon specific issue, rather a problem throughout the industry.

    Look at Northwest Plaza on this site to see what happened when Westfield owned it. Then there are the slumlord mall owners featured on this site numerous times as well who don’t do much of anything to prevent properties from becomeing blited.

  15. Lifestyle Centers Evolve and Adapt to Stay Afloat.
    Mar 31, 2011 12:10 PM

    Lifestyle centers, as a concept, rose and fell spectacularly right along with the industry’s boom and bust.

    That’s left backers of such properties going back to the drawing board and reimagining what lifestyle centers can be. These new approaches at times seem to redefine the concept itself. Whether or not to include anchors, whether to incorporate of non-retail uses and rethinking tenanting strategies are just some of the questions developers are wrestling with.

    Developers are even trying to be more careful about how they use the term. During the boom years, the “lifestyle center” name got abused and stretched beyond all meaning, says Josh Poag, president of Poag & McEwen in Memphis, Tenn., which helped pioneer the concept. “Anything with a Starbucks in it was considered a lifestyle center,” he says. As a result, the label “jumped the shark” and “people were using it for anything and everything.”

    If lifestyle centers are to succeed going forward, Poag and others argue that to qualify for the name, they should boast open-air environs and primarily upscale retailers. And while the first lifestyle centers eschewed anchors and included only inline retail, developers feel the mix going forward may be a bit more varied.

    Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge, La., entered receivership, but has since started to rebound under the direction of a new firm.
    Their efforts come on the heels of the boom years. From 2001 to 2008, the total leasable area of lifestyle centers as a share of all shopping center space grew 112 percent, to 1.8 percent, according to ICSC data. Total leasable area at all shopping centers grew 19 percent over the same time period.

    But that growth has tapered in recent years. Only four new lifestyle centers opened for business in 2010, according to ICSC. Meanwhile, a number of properties foundered and went into foreclosure, including Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos in Corona, Calif.; and Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge, La.

    Developers cite several causes for the difficulties that walloped lifestyle centers. Some were located too far on the outskirts of cities. Others, without anchors to draw shoppers for regular trips, ended up finding they could not compete with nearby regional malls as the economy soured.

    Yaromir Steiner, CEO of Steiner + Associates in Columbus, Ohio, estimates that two-thirds of lifestyle centers were developed in locations oversaturated with retail. “Today it would be very difficult to finance or build a lifestyle center, even those that are strategically justified, because there is lots of pain from the indiscriminate development of the past,” he says.

    Developers also faced the consequences of offering too many co-tenancy clauses to retailers, which gave the stores leeway to pull out if their neighbors did. The departure of one or two tenants could undermine an entire property. This came to pass as many lifestyle center tenants, such as Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Ann Taylor and others, shuttered locations. In other cases, co-tenancy clauses tied to occupancy levels got triggered as vacancies mounted.

    The smallest lifestyle centers, those of less than 100,000 square feet, have proven to be the most vulnerable, says Jeff Green, president of Jeff Green Partners, a Phoenix-based real-estate consulting firm. The industry will lose some lifestyle centers by attrition, Green says, “and will become more right-sized.”

    Other strategies

    Facing such challenges, owners and developers of lifestyle centers are adapting by adding elements to enhance their appeal. Some are revising their retail mix to attract middle-income shoppers, says Poag, of Poag & McEwen. Aspirational shoppers who paid for status items during better times have since traded down and now are more willing to shop elsewhere.

    This trend also shows among anchors moving into lifestyle centers—another change that is blurring the category. Some argue that a lifestyle center with an anchor is no longer a lifestyle center. Others comfortably use the term “anchored lifestyle center.” Best Buys, L.L. Beans and grocery stores are moving into lifestyle centers, Poag says, which helps to broaden the properties’ draw to a wider radius of shoppers.

    Anchors aren’t always enough, however. Florida’s Downtown at the Gardens featured a Whole Foods and a movie theater, but even those attractions couldn’t deliver the traffic retailers needed. The property was close to an existing regional mall and struggled to draw shoppers. Sales at the center flagged, its vacancy rate reached 30 percent, and the property’s lender eventually foreclosed.

    In 2009 Berman Enterprises L.P., based in Rockville, Md., teamed with Ashkenazy & Agus Ventures to buy the $138 million mortgage on Downtown at the Gardens. Berman then bought out its partner and set to work repositioning the site.

    Lifestyle center developers are embracing mixed-use. Poag & McEwen Lifestyle Centers is including apartments at its Highland Row project in Memphis.
    The property had too much debt, and its mix of tenants wasn’t working, says Brian Berman, partner with the firm. Berman Enterprises began making Downtown at the Gardens into a destination. It courted families by adding a carousel and an indoor playground, complete with a café where parents can sip lattes while their kids are entertained.

    Seven restaurant bays lay vacant when Berman took over the site. Six have since been leased. In the summer of 2009 the site was 60 percent leased; it’s now 86 percent leased. Berman’s success has piqued the firm’s interest in buying and rehabilitating other distressed lifestyle centers, says Brian Berman.

    In the mix

    There are signs that lifestyle owners are also chasing the buzz around mixed-use development.

    Lifestyle centers are not the future of retail, says Terry Montesi, founder and CEO of Trademark Property Co., a Fort Worth, Texas-based developer. Instead, urban environments have growing appeal. “People are very into the energy, the life, the sustainability,” Montesi says. Perhaps it’s telling that Poag & McEwen aims to start building an infill mixed-use project in Memphis, Tenn., this year.

    Owners of struggling lifestyle centers may want to consider adding office and residential space, says Claudia Sagan, a real estate consultant based in San Francisco. They could encounter some difficulties, however, such as zoning restrictions or a staff unfamiliar with handling non-retail tenancy.

    The mixed-use nature of Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge, La., has proven key to the property’s revival. At 1.2 million square feet and featuring office and residential space, the site may not meet everyone’s definition of a lifestyle center. But Rick Balow, general manager of the property, says its retail mix is in line with the category.

    Perkins Rowe went into receivership last year after JTS Interests of Baton Rouge fell behind on loans. Jones Lang LaSalle was given management of the site during the foreclosure process.

    As part of its duties, Jones Lang has continued to enlist new tenants and residents. In February 2010, the site’s 138 residential units were 46 percent leased, according to Balow. By the end of last year, they were nearly at capacity. JLL has also signed leases with three new restaurants, two of which have yet to open.

    Since Jones Lang has made these efforts, tenants unhappy with their sales have become top-tier locations, according to Balow, who offers La Madeleine and California Pizza Kitchen as examples.

    Perkins Rowe also benefits from its location in a warmer climate where outdoor shopping remains a year-round option, Balow says. But the mixed-use element is crucial, he says, and he suggests that other lifestyle centers should consider converting. “People work and live here,” he says. “It’s their community.”

    Thaughts.

    What did these developers think what would happen when all of the lifestyle centers were in opperation? Square footage growth out stripped population growth by a wide margin. This is especially true in the hardest hit real estate markets Las Vegas, Phoenix, California & Florida, but is by no means limited to those areas. Look at Atlanta, Dallas Fort Worth & Houston. As fast as those areas grew with new housing units, retail growth grew even faster & created a shorter lifecycle for existing centers from 30-years to perhaps as little as 10-15 years.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, Maybe thats what Nanuet mall should be turned into. A century 21 dept store, and different shops and a Whole Foods. An open air style center maybe good than having to lease a two floor enclosed mall. I t would different than Palisades and different stores that palisades mall dosent have like coach, JOSABANK, Dicks etc.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, Perhaps you maybe on to something, but I wonder about the harsh winters we have had the past few years & what impact that may have. OK Cross County is out doors, so what do I know.

    [Reply]

    Rich Reply:

    @SEAN, Not all bubble areas have had a lot of lifestyle center development. In Atlanta, they tend to be rather small and scattered. Instead, the problem has been a large number of underperforming malls. It was one of the few areas where new malls opened in the late 90s and ’00s.

    It’s difficult to build in the DC area and no new malls have opened since the late 80s, while lifestyle centers have not been common or very large.

    Lifestyle centers are much easier to repurpose than malls, that’s probably one of the many reasons that developers embraced them.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @Rich, Lifestyle centers are much easier to repurpose than malls, that’s probably one of the many reasons that developers embraced them.

    Yeah but they built them in rapid succession without reguards to absorbtion or physical population growth. Rather they used moddles that assumed ever increasing population trends.

    What they call growth is actually chasing the “hot” residential area at any given time. That means the newest subdivision/ neighborhood or city.

    Atlanta didn’t have the price increases on real estate that you saw in the west, but the sprawl machine was working in overdrive. Please tell me who is going to buy all those unoccupied mcmantions now? How does that effect all of the shopping centers built to serve those mythical residents?

    [Reply]

  16. QSR News

    Sbarro files for Chapter 11

    4/4/11

    After much speculation about its financial struggles, Melville, N.Y.-based Sbarro Inc., the ubiquitous shopping mall pizza presence, has filed for Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

    Sbarro Inc., and its domestic subsidiaries, today announced that it has reached agreement with all of its second-lien secured lenders and approximately 70 percent of its senior noteholders on the terms of a reorganization plan that will eliminate approximately $200 million of debt. This would bring the company’s debt down to about $175 million and will significantly improve its capital structure and operating flexibility.

    To facilitate its restructuring, the company will use Chapter 11 to reorganize its debts, and ensure its long-term financial health, while continuing to operate in the normal course of business without interruption during the restructuring process.

    In conjunction with the filing, the company is seeking court approval to enter into a $35 million debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing agreement it has secured with certain of its existing first-lien lenders. The DIP financing, together with the company’s cash flow from operations, will provide Sbarro with sufficient liquidity to meet its post-petition operating expenses and maintain normal operations.

    “We believe this plan represents the best opportunity for Sbarro to clear a path for future growth by restructuring its debt in an effective and timely manner,” said Nicholas McGrane, interim president and CEO of Sbarro Inc. “We are a strong company with one of the most recognizable restaurant brands in the world. We look forward to emerging from this process as quickly as possible with a capital structure that will firmly position us for continued long-term success. We greatly appreciate the ongoing support of our existing stakeholders, customers, suppliers, landlords and franchisees.”

    Sbarro first opened more than 50 years ago and now includes more than 1,000 locations across more than 40 countries.

    The company is being advised by Kirkland & Ellis LLP, its legal counsel, and Rothschild Inc., its financial advisor.

    I first herd about this a few months ago on The Michael Kay show. For readers outside the NYC metro area, Michael Kay is the TV broadcaster of Yankees games on the YES Network. He also has a drivetime afternoon radio show on 1050AM WEPN New Yorks ESPN afilliate, wich can be herd on Serious XM channel 141 as well @ 3PM Eastern.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I was in Palisades today i saw Fire and Ice closed. I hope Tony Romas makes it. There is still alot of comings and goings in that mall.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, The space that was Fire & Ice was originally Micky Mantles & then a short lived nightclub. Nothing really was successful in that spot. across the way was Fox Sports Grill, an interesting venue that also was short lived. Now that space is becomeing XXI Forever. I’m not sure if Tony Romas will last either, then again you could say the same for Buffalo Wild Wings.

    I went to BWW & didn’t like the food all that much. TR was a little better, but I like Dave & Busters, Stir Crazy & of course the Cheesecake Factory.

    [Reply]

    Gary Reply:

    @SEAN, would there be enough space for a large-scale 24-hour fitness center at Palisades? Something like an LA Fitness could work at the mall and feature amenities not offered in other area fitness centers.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @Gary, There is a fitness center New York Sports club. This is Palisades mall in West Nyack N.Y. They wouldnt do it in a shopping mall only a free standing or in a strip mall to be open 24 hours..

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, I wonder if by some creative work if a full service grocery store could be added to Palisades to eat up some of the dead or unused square footage. I mean a Wegmans or Trader Joe’s & not Stop & shop, although a Fairway would be nice. I figure somewhere between 60,000 to 75,000 sq ft maybe required, although TJ’s are smaller than that.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I totally agree with you we dont need another Stop and Shop. Fairway Wegmans or Trader joes yes, but there is Shop rite across from the mall and S top and Shop up the road. Dont forget the mall was built when the economy was doing well. The way clarkstown and the residents attitude is about Palisades they will not go for it. They all still live in the 70s of Nanuet Mall. I often wonder how many go to GSP AND if that mall is too big for them. We live in a lazy soceity.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, Oh I wasn’t aware of ShopRite’s location. Is that store new or is it a smaller & older one.

    If you think the residents of Clarkstown are angry now, imagine what would happen if the out of town shoppers stopped comeing? This will destroy the remaining tax base & cause tempers to really flare.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, Shop Rite in West Nyack opened in 2003 i believe.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, Thanks, there goes a good idea unless they were willing to move into the mall. Triditional retailers in malls are harder to come buy unless you are a top performing property or serve a wealthy area. That is where Paramus succeeds & Palisades does not.

    It doesn’t help matters when your local shopping base thumbs there noses at there area malls & then cross the state line for a better deal.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I always said if these residents didnt fight the palisades mall fpr 11 years the mall would have been built and looked better inside, These people want malls more for atmosphere than shopping. Yes the Paramus malls have nice atmosphere i go there for shopping only. I mostly go to GSP OR Bergen Town Center.

    SEAN Reply:

    @Rob, In that case it’s a miracle that Palisades has lasted for as long as it has totally on out of towners. Most malls depend on organic growth with some backing from visiters.

    At GSP you are just as likely to find locals as well as visitors. That expands the regional draw of that center. You can say the same for South Coast Plaza, Fashon Show, MOA, Northpark Center, Galleria Dallas/ Houston, Short Hills & Aventura Mall. There are several others, but I didn’t want to go overboard. Each property is nationally & internationally recognized & in several cases noted for it’s designer brand lineup.

    This is where Palisades really comes up short. This is not just the lackluster responce from the community, rather it is also having far better malls in the back yard that contributes to the problem.

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I was at GSP today i was there for an interview at a store boy there were alot of comings and goings there but they are doing another expansion job and opened a grill restaurant next to Bannana Republic. Borders closes on Saturday. That mall is amazing. They do have many shops that are in Palisades.

    SEAN Reply:

    @Rob, good luck.

    I know both GSP & Palisades share stores, but GSP has a tax advantage for it’s customers.

    Now what’s this about another expantion?

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, Yes the manager who interviewed me said that they had a meeting with mall management I dont know when they are starting. Many stores are remodeling . Thats why I like westfield they always find room to improve GSP. iF ONLY PYRAMID AND SIMON COULD be like westfield.

    SEAN Reply:

    @Rob, GSP is Westfield’s largest asset so of course they will always put money towards it. Westfield sold most of there lower quality assets a few years ago to CBL & Associates.

    Simon does have it share of dud properties, but to be fare all of the large reits have duds & employ the same tactics in reguards to putting money into there prize properties.

    Take a look at Glimture Retail Trust a Columbus Ohio furm that has mostly struggling malls & was forced to sell it’s prized Loyd Center to raise cash.

    To Simon or Westfield Loyd Center would be a mid tier center, but to GRT it was there most importent property.

    SEAN Reply:

    @Rob, Take a look at this real estate article I just found. This may give some insights on population trends & why they don’t favor places like Nanuet, Palasades & malls like it.

    Renewed Urbanization Will Drive Change in Retail Strategies
    Apr 6, 2011 8:05 AM, By David J. Lynn, Ph.D., NREI Contributing Columnist

    Changing demographics and shifting land use patterns will significantly influence development of retail investment strategies going forward.

    These trends taken together represent a progression toward greater urbanization in the U.S., a movement back toward the cities and to higher density living and diverse patterns of mixed-use development.

    This evolving trend stems from contemporary choices of Baby Boomers and Echo Boomers, rising transportation costs, and community and government preferences toward mixed-use, higher-density, walkable communities and away from suburban sprawl.

    The renewed urbanization represents a significant turn from suburbanization patterns of the past decades. Retailers are already adapting their formats to respond to these changes.

    Investors will also need to reformulate retail strategies, given changing patterns of demand and land use. A closer look follows.

    Urban Amenities: Intergenerational Attraction

    The social preference will be the strongest attraction for Baby Boomers to urban areas. Retiring Baby Boomers will have a net migration to rural areas if they follow behavior of their predecessors, according to John Cromartie and Peter Nelson in their 2009 study, “Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America,” published by the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

    However, that same study and Ania Wieckowski’s “Back to the City” in the May 2010 Harvard Business Review concluded that aging Boomers will appreciate urban amenities such as proximity to health care and families, and walkable, active communities.

    Many Baby Boomers exhibit empty nest syndrome when their Generation Y children leave home. In real estate, this typically is thought to entail leaving behind their large suburban home for smaller, more manageable living quarters in vibrant, entertainment-driven environments.

    As retirement looms for the older Boomers, 17 million, or 25 % of the cohort, will be senior citizens within the next decade.

    Baby Boomers have indicated in analyses that they are most concerned with obtaining affordable housing. They will also want to be in communities that are walkable or have public transit for both philosophical and physical reasons.

    It is likely they will prefer and eventually have to stop driving. For this reason, it is likely they will seek smaller, easier shopping formats that are closer to home.

    Indeed, walkability has become an important factor. Zillow, the popular online real estate database, in July 2007 began rating the walkability of the property to retail and transit infrastructure and other services on a scale of 0 to 100.

    For these reasons, we believe the Baby Boomers will either be inclined to move to or remain in urban areas. Also in the near term, they are unlikely to retire at typical retirement age.

    When they do retire, we expect at most they will exhibit a relatively insignificant urban outmigration from cities compared with the influx of Echo Boomers.

    Dave Schreiner, vice president of active adult business development for Pulte Homes, bets his company will profit from baby boomers’ preference for more urban environments.

    “A large number of Del Webb (the Pulte active adult brand) residents are starting new businesses, getting retrained and staying connected to the workforce. They don’t leave it entirely,” says Schreiner.

    “That’s one advantage of positioning our newer communities close to large metropolitan centers. That’s where the jobs are.”

    Different generation, different motives

    The factors driving Echo Boomers toward urban areas is somewhat different. The desire for vibrant and cultural social experiences is the same, but their economic motivation for urban living is much stronger and clearer.

    The overwhelming majority of Echo Boomers are primarily focused on career development and economic opportunity. This is illustrated by shifts in U.S. Census Bureau statistics that report 64% of 25-to 34-year-olds look for the city they desire to live in before looking for an actual job.

    From 1990 to 2000, the Echo Boomers showed a 250% increase in positive likelihood to live within three miles of a central business district. This indicates that there is an assumption that a city holds opportunities Echo Boomers desire.

    In line with these noted urbanization trends of U.S. population is the forecasting by the population division of the Department of Economics and Social Affairs of the United Nations.

    The department lists the United States in the top five countries in the world for rapid speed of population decline in rural areas at -0.67% over the last 10 years. The urban population, meanwhile, has increased at an average of 1.38% over the same period.

    Impact of rising fuel costs

    Increasing transportation costs also are a major force behind urbanization trends. Despite increased resources devoted to developing alternative energy, it is clear that the majority of the energy to meet demand for the foreseeable future will come from fossil fuels.

    There appears to be no major commercial innovations on the horizon that will interrupt the upward pressure on oil prices.

    An assumption can be made that due to increased automotive travel costs, people will drive less and prefer to live in areas where they are closer to work, necessities and entertainment.

    The fact is that this has already been happening, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration. Total vehicular miles traveled (VMT) in the United States has generally increased year-over-year for the past 30 years. However, this increase has begun to decelerate rapidly over the last two decades.

    As seen in Figure 1, the last increase in VMT occurred between the 1970s and the 1980s. Since then, the percentage increase of annual VMT has decelerated.

    Click chart to enlarge
    The peak decade-over-decade increase was 38.5% from 1981 to 1990. The following decade the VMT increased by 26.5%, and from 2001 to 2010, the VMT has only increased a total of 6.5%.

    This deceleration is occurring despite a growth in population and income, and despite overall economic expansion of the United States. A direct conclusion is that people are shifting their means of travel away from the automobile.

    At the same time, public transportation systems have become better developed, and transit-oriented development is also being pursued in numerous metro areas.

    Changes are by design

    Some of the shift toward mixed-use and high-density design can be attributed to widespread changes in industry standards of city planners, urban designers and the real estate sector.

    Over the last 10 to 15 years, the generally accepted idea of what constitutes a good neighborhood has changed quite a bit, and it is not suburban sprawl.

    It has become clear to industry professionals that mixed-use design, walkable communities and access to public transport is not a fad and will continue to be important in the future.

    Most architecture and planning colleges and universities train new planners in the design of integrated mixed-use communities. Architecture and planning schools have ubiquitously taught some form of “New Urbanism.” The next generation of planners is likewise being inundated with the tenants of thoughtful urban design.

    Real estate trade organizations, especially the Urban Land Institute, have produced numerous publications on the value of developments that effectively combine density, open space, multiple transportation options and walkability among a mix of real estate uses.

    While zoning was for many decades strictly confined to regulating separation between different land uses, many community planning boards, especially those in need of urban revival, are increasingly enticing developers with zoning law variances, tax incentives and public-private partnerships to undertake retail and mixed-used development.

    Consequences for the retail sector

    As a proxy for demand for retail in urban areas, we have examined retail rent growth in first tier and top-performing metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) across the U.S.

    We examined the trailing five-year recorded rent growth from CBRE Econometric Advisors and the ING Clarion Research and Strategy Group’s projected five-year rent growth for a given MSA overall. Then we compared that to submarkets of the MSA that could be considered the central business district (CBD).

    Because of data deficiencies and complications, New York City and Los Angeles were omitted from this study. The results can be seen in Figure 2.

    Click chart to enlarge
    The results indicate that 53% of the time in the last five years, the rent growth for retail assets in the CBD has outpaced the overall MSA rent growth. The magnitude of average rent growth has been about 2.5 times greater in the CBD than in the MSA.

    For the five-year forecast, the CBD rent growth outpaces the MSA 67% of the time, and is on average 1.5 times greater in magnitude.

    This projection suggests that more often than not the demand for — and lack of supply of — retail space in CBDs will exhibit significantly more robust rent growth than less dense areas of the greater MSA encompassing that CBD.

    This is a reasonable conclusion considering the proven and projected increased in demand for urban places and the relatively limited supply of such locations.

    The results of this data analysis indicate a potential business preference for denser urban locations over outer edges of the MSA. Given our analysis of demographic and land use trends, we expect this divergence to continue and potentially widen in the future.

    David Lynn is a managing director, generalist portfolio manager and head of investment strategy for ING Clarion Partners in New York.

    Another great resource is http://www.walkscore.com as well.

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I get what that article says Rockland County is really squeezed like we said between Westchester and Paramus.Especially that Bergen town center is an outlet center and Century 21 not here as well. Thats what draws me to bergen town center., not even because of tax.GSP WILL always be the big draw over Palisades but at least they are trying to bring in stores like forever21 and remodeling many stores and Orvis opening. See there two malls in Raleigh N.C Triangle Town C enter has MACYS, SEARS, DILLARDS,SAKS AND BELK WITH MODERATE PRICED SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS AND ITS PART INDOOR AND OUTDOOR. CRABTREE VALLEY MALL HAS BELK MACYS, AND SEARS BUT HAS UPSCALE SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS. THOSE MALLS ARE REALLY NICE. i ALSO SAY THAT MANY MOVED OUT OF HERE BEFORE THE ECONOMY TANKED.

    SEAN Reply:

    @Rob, I’m not sure how many people actually moved out, but I believe the numbers are smaller than you might suspect despite what is reported on http://www.lohud.com or the Bergen Reccord.

    Since You already live in Bergen, you can discount the tax savings I posted earlier. Paramus is such that the name alone is enough to atract shoppers reguardless of what might be going on & if there’s a celeberty sighting, forgetaboutit.

    Gary Reply:

    @rob, they could if it has an exterior entrance, but I don’t know how saturated the fitness industry is out there, it’s just an idea.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @Gary, A better term would be how large the fitness industry has become.

    The club opperators get fatter & fatter while the locations come & go with some degree of regularity.

    [Reply]

    Gary Reply:

    @SEAN, that’s precisely true Sean, there was a time when you didn’t have much choice where to go when it came to fitness clubs but now there’s such a variety and moreover it seems to be the franchise concept that is gaining popularity in the fitness industry but with it comes the risk of it failing.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @Gary, Well said. There was a club in New Rochele @ New Roc City for about a decade & it closed last year. Meanwhile a new club opened in the base of Trump plaza a block to the south around the same time. Now how long will that one last is the question.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I thought you knew I live in Rockland County, I shop in Bergen. I even used to live in Fishkill in Dutchess County. Im not saying as much in Bergen County but many moved out of Rockland. My cousin lives in Pearl River and the taxes are choking them. They may get out soon and move to North Carolina, I get what you are saying the name Paramus because they have been the popular shopping mecca since the 1950s.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, Oops my bad! You talk so much about Bergen County, I thaught you lived there. I do remember you mentioning living in Fishkill however. Now I understand why you reference Nanuet & Palisades in most of your posts.

    We hardly mention Paramus Park in the regions malls, although it fills an importent nitch as does Bergen TC.

    One of the issues not referenced here is the fact that Nanuet Mall doesn’t have a nitch it can fill at this point. We have circled the wagons around this issue, but this is where the problem lies & what makes it tougher is two fold. 1. Palisades trade area is shrinking & 2. those who could shop here are crossing the state line as I said a few posts back.

    This brings up two funtimental questions that Clarkstown & County officials need to answer… is the Nanuet Mall currently viable? & will Pallisades remain so? Personally I think no on #1 & the jury is still out on #2.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, No big deal I live so close to Paramus 15 minutes away. Paramus Park is lost in the shuffle a bit. I dont go there often. I am not a Sears fan at all. When I go because i dont drive i take the pvl to North Hackensack AND i i walk up tp route 4 and take the local bus to GSP OR BTC. i WAS AT pALISADES Popeyes is opening in the food court. Steinway piano store is opening I dont know if people here in Rockland are going to buy pianoes. KFC IS still coming soon its been a year now. I just hope IHOP wont take long to open.

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, I saw a headline that they maybe building a 600,000 square foot shopping center in Mahwah it said another nail in Rocklands coffin. I think it was in todays journal news Sunday. So like we said Rockland is getting squeezed again from Bergen County.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, I’ll try to find the article.

    I was at GSP yesterday, they were having preauditions for the X factor & it was driving the employees at Lovesac totally crazy.

    Picked up an interesting CD from Best Bbuy it’s called “Lungs” by Flowrence & the Machine. It’s strange & yet some how very adicting at the same time. The song “Cosmic Love” was featured on the ABC sci fi drama “V” & that’s how I first came across this & was blown away by the big sound. If you listen to it, you’ll understand right away what I mean by big sound & why it is adicting.

    If Mahwah does get another giant shopping center, you can forget about Nanuet’s viability as a regional shopping district. Not only that, I would need to ask the same question of Rockland County because the trade area keeps shrinking while Bergen & Westchester Counties keep growing. Remember the A, B & C status arguement I made on the Nanuet thred several months ago? Here it comes from another angle thanks in part from your neighbors in Mahwah.

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, I read it & the Rockland officials quoted in the article are even more pathetic than I initially thaught. They admited that they were out smarted by Mahwah at every turn. I was like, what a bunch of spineless losers, no wonder they cant figgure out what to do with Nanuet Mall or the unused space at Palisades Center.

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, That song “Cosmic Love” is also featured in the ad for a new film called “Water for Elephants.”

  17. This article from Retail traffic is quite timely based on the last several posts.

    Supermarkets, Fitness Centers & Theaters All Serve as Alternate Anchors for Regional Malls
    Apr 6, 2011 8:10 AM, By Elaine Misonzhnik

    The long-in-the-making decline of department stores has been forcing regional mall firms to search for alternative anchors for years. In the past decade, big-box stores, restaurants, discounters and other large space users have all popped up as alternative anchors.

    Today, as mall owners deal with the latest round of department store closings, a new crop of replacements has emerged. Supermarkets, wholesale clubs, gyms, theaters and even jumbo-sized specialty retailers are all taking space formerly occupied by the likes of Sears, Boscov’s, Mervyn’s and other department store chains. Less commonly, owners have also signed leases with non-retail uses like theaters, spas, medical facilities, colleges and religious institutions.

    Last fall, for example, Tennessee-based Rush Fitness Complex, a regional workout chain, opened a 30,000-square-foot facility at Walnut Square, a 492,028-square-foot regional mall in Dalton, Ga. The space used to be occupied by Goody’s Family Clothing, but after the chain went bankrupt in 2009, the mall’s owner, Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CBL & Associates Properties Inc., approached Rush about coming to the center. The location has been working out great, according to Larry Gurney, founder, president and CEO of Rush.

    In another case, at the 992,322-square-foot Harrisburg Mall in Harrisburg, Pa., managing agent Jones Lang LaSalle Retail recently brought in Broadway Classic Productions, a local theater company, to take up a 7,000-square-foot ground floor space that formerly belonged to a Boscov’s department store.

    In addition, Australia-based mall operator Westfield Group has been signing deals with both Costco and Aldi to come to its centers. And apparel retailer Forever 21 has been snapping up spaces at malls throughout the country.

    Mall owner Westfield has been experimenting with supermarket tenants recently, including this Seafood City store at Westfield Southcenter in Seattle.
    A quality that many of these new tenants share is that in the past they have eschewed regional malls or occupied non-anchor spaces, but have now switched gears. It’s part of a broader trend where there is less segregation of tenants by property type. So retailers that, say, may have exclusively located in power centers in the past are being more flexible about the kinds of spaces they are willing to consider.

    There are both short-term and long-term factors at work behind the trend.

    These tenants are looking at malls at a time when the vacancy rate for regional mall anchors remains near its cyclical high. The downturn had a significant impact on many anchor tenants. Mervyn’s and Gottschalks closed for good. Boscov’s went through Chapter 11 reorganization. Macy’s and Dillard’s closed dozens of stores. As a result, Reis Inc., a New York City-based research firm, estimates that anchor vacancies at regional malls reached a peak of 4.0 percent in the first quarter of 2010 and have declined only slightly to 3.9 percent in the most recent reading. That’s double the low point of 2.0 percent in the second quarter of 2006.

    Many traditional mall anchors are not expanding rapidly and instead have focused on building cash reserves. In addition, department stores have been losing market share for years. Department stores’ share of the U.S. retail market dropped from more than 7 percent in 1990 to about 2.5 percent in 2010, according to research by Customer Growth Partners, a New Canaan, Conn.-based consulting firm.

    “Certainly there has been a little bit of a reaction on the part of mall developers to the shrinking and consolidation of department stores and junior boxes,” says David Neuhoff, vice president of redevelopment with CBL, adding that he expects more consolidation and/or bankruptcies among traditional anchor tenants. “But now you are also seeing developers being proactive and looking to the future.”

    Today, about one in every four malls in the country features at least one unconventional anchor, estimates John Bemis, executive vice president and director of leasing and development with Jones Lang LaSalle Retail, an Atlanta-based third party property manager. And mall owners are looking for alternative tenants that drive foot traffic, like a department store does.

    New alliances

    One of the more interesting recent trends has been the emergence of supermarkets and warehouse clubs as potential mall anchors. In the past, mall owners and supermarket operators have had doubts about how well grocery stores fit into the typical regional mall mix.

    Supermarket chains were concerned about the premium rental rates and high common area charges they would have to pay for a mall store versus a location in a strip center. And both mall operators and supermarket executives worried about the added car traffic, parking issues and loading issues a supermarket would create in a mall. But those attitudes have begun to change as mall owners face a plethora of vacancies at their centers.

    The challenge has been convincing supermarket operators that they can go inside regional malls and be successful, Neuhoff notes. Many supermarket chains already operate locations next to regional centers, but since the strategy is fairly new in the U.S., they are still working out issues like whether to have an internal entrance, and how to best handle loading and parking.

    Westfield has been among the first mall owners to pursue this strategy: in August, the firm signed a deal with Costco to open stores at Westfield malls in Los Angeles, Sarasota, Fla. and Wheaton, Md. In the past, Costco had faced some challenges breaking into infill markets because there were so few available sites that fit its criteria, according to David Messner, vice president of real estate with the chain. But as more department stores started closing down their doors, Costco saw an opportunity to grow its portfolio. As of 2010, Costco operated eight stores at regional malls.

    Observers think the strategy makes sense. Not only are some of these retailers large enough to occupy anchor boxes—many Costco stores, for example, measure more than 100,000 square feet—they drive high foot traffic more regularly than department stores, according to Jeff Green, president of Jeff Green Partners, a Phoenix-based real estate consulting firm.

    Westfield is also experimenting with supermarkets. In September, the firm signed a 20,000-square-foot lease with German discount supermarket chain Aldi for its first U.S. store in a regional mall.

    Aldi will open in a former Steve & Barry’s space at Westfield Chicago Ridge mall in Cook County, Ill. One industry source says that European supermarket operators might be more comfortable with the idea of leasing space at malls because it’s already a common strategy across the Atlantic.

    CBL, for its part, has been having exploratory conversations with domestic supermarket chains and specialty grocers about potentially opening mall stores. “We would love to incorporate grocers like Trader Joe’s or Fresh Market, which are excellent traffic drivers to the mall,” says Neuhoff.

    Getting in shape

    Fitness clubs like Rush can also work as good substitutes for department stores because the larger chains occupy big chunks of space and bring in regular visitors. In fact, fitness clubs often attract a more diverse pool of potential customers than a traditional mall anchor because there are people who come to the mall to exercise who would not have gone in just to shop, says a CBL spokesperson.

    Rush Fitness already operates two clubs at regional malls and would like to open more.
    Meanwhile, fitness club operators benefit from having an easily identifiable address, plenty of parking and a second entrance inside a mall that exposes the brand to passersby, says Gurney, of Rush Fitness. Rush opened its first club at a Simon mall in Knoxville, Tenn. in 2001. But the club at Walnut Square was only its second location in an enclosed regional mall in 10 years.

    “I think it’s done really well for us and we are looking for more [locations] like that if it has the right dynamics and the right pieces.”

    Fitness chains as a group are in heavy expansion mode right now—companies from Planet Fitness to LA Fitness to Anytime Fitness are opening new locations. Hastings, Minn.-based Anytime Fitness alone plans to open 900 new clubs over the next 24 months, putting it on the list of the fastest growing retailers, according to a report produced RBC Capital Markets and Retail Lease Trac.

    A spokesman for Anytime Fitness says that 99 percent of its clubs are currently located in strip centers, but the chain does have about a dozen units in enclosed malls and would be willing to open more if the opportunity came about.

    “With people concerned about health and obesity, our industry is really something that’s growing and not something that’s going to move away,” says Gurney. “And with a lot of the boxes closing out there, we create a lot of traffic [for mall owners]. A lot of people use health clubs two, three, four times a week.”

    Today, Rush Fitness operates 23 locations, but its long-term plans call for hundreds of clubs all around the United States.

    Forever expanding

    Another firm that’s been making a lot of noise in leasing mall anchor space is apparel chain Forever 21. The company has been a popular mall tenant since the late 1980s. Up until recently, however, it occupied inline space. But in the last few years, the firm has jumped on the opportunity to grab large boxes and open stores in the 80,000-square-foot to 90,000-square-foot range.

    In 2008, Forever 21 purchased 15 Mervyn’s leaseholds in an open auction. It initially tried to buy all 150 Mervyn’s stores. Since then, the retailer has been snapping up boxes belonging to other mall anchors. In July, for example, it took over a lease for a 43,000-square-foot space at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif. from Sears Holdings Corp.

    Movie theaters and community theaters are often willing to take over empty department store boxes.
    “In many cases for them, it’s a function of being able to access a market they couldn’t ordinarily get into,” says Bemis. “Forever 21 was not going to be able to find itself a location at South Coast Plaza” without the Sears lease.

    At the same time, malls throughout the country have started to bring in non-retail uses like live theaters, libraries, medical facilities, government buildings and religious institutions.

    For example, Jones Lang LaSalle recently leased some mall locations to beauty schools Paul Mitchell and Aveda Institute, says Mark Hunter, senior vice president of retail services with the firm. “I think you are seeing enclosed malls reinvent themselves to cater to a broader customer base,” he notes.

    And when all else fails, firms can opt to chop up the space and put a cluster of retailers or restaurants together as a way of creating an alternative anchor.

    Cost analysis

    What makes alternate anchors particularly attractive is that mall owners don’t have to swallow huge rent discounts to take them on, Bemis notes. That’s because department stores have typically paid below market rents in exchange for serving as traffic drivers. So even if a fitness club or a supermarket chain expects to see significant perks, the landlord can give them what they want and not take too much of a hit on its NOI.

    In the fourth quarter of 2010, rents for anchor spaces at regional malls averaged $26.27 per square foot, about the same as the year prior, according to Reis statistics. In contrast, rents for inline space averaged $38.79 per square foot. During the current market cycle, anchor rents peaked at $30.12 per square foot in fourth quarter of 2008.

    The bigger issue for mall owners might be the cost of converting former department stores to new uses. Some of the new tenants are not used to the high ceilings typically employed by department store chains or might need to create new stairwells between floors, while others, like medical and educational facilities, need infrastructure for equipment and technology, according to Jane Lisy, vice president of marketing with Forest City Enterprises, a Cleveland, Ohio-based real estate operating company. If the mall owner decides to split the box into smaller units, that costs money as well.

    When Forever 21 opened a new store in a vacant department space at Forest City-owned Antelope Valley Mall in Palmdale, Calif. in February 2009, the mall owner had to spend an undisclosed amount retrofitting the space to accommodate the chain’s smaller footprint. Ultimately, however, Forest City decided the costs were worth it to bring Forever 21 to its property. The leasing team knew that Forever 21 wouldn’t build a new store in the mall, notes Lisy.

    “It can get cost prohibitive and it requires some creativity,” she says about retrofitting. “We’ve looked at bringing in alternative tenants and in some cases it didn’t make sense. But at Antelope Valley, it was an opportunity for us to use the [vacant] space and get the tenant that we wanted.”

    [Reply]

    rob Reply:

    @SEAN, Thanks Sean i will have to check that song out. Have you heard of a grocery chain called The fresh market they are opening on Chestnut ridge road in Montvale. See another store Bergen County gets. Its amazing. Have you by chance heard anything from Simon Property.

    [Reply]

    SEAN Reply:

    @rob, I recently came across the Fresh Market name while researching Aventura FL, where they have a location. Just looked at there site before posting here & I get the impression they are a cross between Whole Foods & Trader Joes.

    There are over 100 locations in the southeast mostly, but they are expanding rapidly in the midwest, mid-atlantic & northeast. They are opening a location in Scarsdale as well as Montvale. Greensboro NC, is there home base & the stock symbol is TFM

    Check out the entire album & tell me what you thaught about it. I think she’s nutty, but there’s something strangely adicting about her music.

    [Reply]

  18. General Growth Completes $1.7B Refinancing
    Apr 18, 2011 1:51 PM, Staff Reports

    General Growth Properties Inc. announced the refinancing of seven shopping malls representing $1.7 billion of new mortgages ($1.4 billion is GGP’s share).

    These seven new fixed-rate mortgages have a weighted average term of 10.3 years and generated cash proceeds in excess of in-place financing of approximately $400 million to GGP. GGP has also been able to lower the weighted average interest rate of these seven mortgages from 5.65 percent to 5.33 percent, while lengthening the term by approximately seven years over that in place. Six of these properties have closed and the seventh property is anticipated to close in May 2011.

    Additionally, GGP has also increased the capacity of its credit facility to $750 million, up from $720 million. These recent financings, when combined with cash on hand, increases GGP’s liquidity position to over $2 billion.

    “We are pleased to announce the completion of these financing transactions,” GGP CEO Sandeep Mathrani said in a statement. “These transactions mark another step towards our 2011 balance sheet goals of lengthening maturities while improving liquidity. We will continue to take advantage of our ability to refinance GGP’s mortgages and the current capital markets where it is accretive to GGP’s balance sheet strategy.”

    Some how I smell an evential default once these properties are worth less than the value of the current outstanding ballence.

    [Reply]

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