Shopping Center Business

MAY 2015

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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202 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • MAY 2015 "We set out to develop a comprehen- sive program for families that would make the most of their time together," says Tara Martin, who was then a regional market- ing director for Westfield, who explained that play areas are a critical component of the WFamily experience. "It's a unique place where children can stretch their minds while parents take a break from shopping." She adds, "WFamily was created to encourage play, exploration, discovery, interaction and socialization in children, while at the same time, making shopping easy for parents.We believe we've created something quite special for our families." Simon: Create PartnerShiPS and Build Synergy Simon Property Group also offers play areas at most of its properties and the company has become adept at building win-win partnerships through sponsor- ship agreements. For example, Fashion Valley is San Di- ego's biggest attraction. In fact, according to Francine Miley, director of marketing and business development, Fashion Val- ley's visitor count exceeds that of the San Diego Zoo, Sea World and the San Diego Padres baseball team combined. When Simon decided to renovate the 1.7 million square feet of shopping space at Fashion Valley, it made sense to add an amenity for families. Simon turned to PLAYTIME to create a custom, outdoor play area. Simon also secured a sponsorship for the play area from Geppetto's Toys, a beloved local toy store with eight California locations. "Our goal was to provide our families with a place where they could take a break, enjoy San Diego's gorgeous weather, and then head out and enjoy more of what Fashion Valley has to offer," Miley says. "It's worked amazingly well." avalon: FamilieS inCluded in the BluePrintS In the March issue of Shopping Center Business, an article featuring the new Ava- lon project in Alpharetta, Georgia, stated, "[Avalon] has been heralded for bringing a new experience to the city's northern suburbs, attracting local celebrity chefs and prominent national retailers to an established market. But beyond the retail, local residents are praising the property for giving them a common place to spend time and attend events." Avalon opened on October 30, 2014, and includes 350,000 square feet of re- tail space, 250 luxury rental residences, 108,000 square feet of lofts over office space, 101 single-family homes and 14 restaurants. On opening day, Avalon was 98 percent leased. "We saw a need for spaces where young families could gather and shop," says Liz Gillespie, partner and vice presi- dent of marketing, explaining that the development includes a family lounge with family restrooms, a mother's nurs- ing lounge with changing stations and a place to regroup away from the bustling activity around Avalon. "Then, we decided to take it a step further and incorporated an indoor/out- door soft play area as part of the family lounge," says Gillespie. Avalon turned to PLAYTIME to create the lounge. The custom soft play area includes squirrels in various forms of healthy ac- tivity, from stretching to lifting weights, and climbing trees. The space is so suc- cessful at inspiring healthy play that it was sponsored by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "This beautiful play area is yet another manifestation of our core values," says Gillespie. "It's another reason that the Avalon experience is so special." Be the hoSt With the moSt When you think about it, the retail world's desire to create experiences for their shoppers is a lot like being a good host for guests in your home: anticipate their needs, add special touches, let them know you care. When it comes to families, this special attention will not only earn your center a community reputation as a welcoming, entertaining place to be, but will also result in increased sales. SCB Jeff Evans is the director of busi- ness development for PLAYTIME. Westfield's WFamily play area.

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