2007-01-22, 18:14

Mixed use approaches middle age

By: Jonathan Groner
In the Jan. 22, 2007, issue of Real Estate Business Online, http://www.rebusinessonline.com/article_archive/01-22-07.shtml, shopping center consultant Jeff Green speculates on whether lifestyle centers and mixed use have run their course, or whether there is life remaining in the form. He concludes that there is plenty of time and life left.

Mixed-use developments, Green notes, "are appealing to communities, including the high growth ones with outstanding demographics. They are a means to jump-starting a community destination or gathering place and, when done well, have a valuable role in identity building. And, unlike some of the pie-in-the-sky streetscape programs of the past, the best communities are listening to the end-users, bringing about mixes of uses that are less likely to sit empty."

As far as what the future holds, Green has some interesting speculation:

"In the quest for locations for retailers, the lifestyle center must continue to find holes of potential. This means becoming more of a community hub that can combine destination, convenience and service. We are already seeing smaller lifestyle centers, often no more than 80,000 square feet, which are comparable in size to most strip centers. As developers identify these niche locations and demographics, there is an opportunity to re-introduce, in up-scaled fashion, the service component of retail that is often missing in the modern environment. Examples include hair salons, smaller spas and skin care centers, designer eyeglasses centers, ethnic and specialty grocers, or artisan bakeries.

"The lesson or direction is not to overstore America by building another generic or prototype lifestyle center wherever one can be shoehorned in, as we may have done in the heyday of regional malls and their department store anchors. Prototype centers may have been OK for the first incantation of lifestyle centers. Not now."

The idea is not to repeat with mixed-use and lifestyle centers the same errors that were made with traditional malls.

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