Shopping Center Business

MAY 2015

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248 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • MAY 2015 Interview by Randall Shearin Noted retail architect Angelo Carusi weighs in on retail trends, development activity and the future of the sector. Design Perspective S hopping Center Business recently met with Angelo Carusi, a principal with Atlanta-based Cooper Carry, to see what the firm was working on, as well as how an architect views the industry today. Carusi joined Cooper Carry in 1993, and has served as a principal of the firm since 2000; he is a key contributor to the firm's retail practice worldwide. SCB: Is there a region of the country where you are seeing the most activity? Carusi: We are seeing a lot of activity in the Nashville area and various parts of Florida, especially the Palm Beach/Bro- ward/Dade County portion of the state. We are also working on projects in Mont- gomery, Alabama; Daytona, Florida; and internationally in the United Arab Emirates. Our Washington, D.C., office remains very busy with projects through- out the metro D.C. area, especially in Alexandria. SCB: Is repositioning of existing centers still the dominant work? Carusi: Some of our work is new, out- of-the-ground work and some is reposi- tioning. Our projects include large-scale mixed-use centers, small-scale mixed-use centers, mall renovations and high-end grocery development. SCB: What is your prediction for the suburban shopping mall? Carusi: That's an excellent question and a complicated one. Part of the an- swer comes from answering the ques- tion, 'what is the future of the depart- ment store?' There are some very strong department store players in the market, with Macy's being the most prominent. The regional mall was built on the prem- ise of anchors connected by small shops and the anchors have traditionally been department stores. But clearly over the past few years, as the department store industry has consolidated, other non-tra- ditional anchors have found a place at the mall. Former department store locations have been redeveloped into very success- ful restaurant groupings, specialty retail and new 'department stores' like Forever XXI, grocery anchors, etc. In our most re- cent history, lifestyle centers were created without anchors. We have many clients who have expressed concerns about unan- chored centers being susceptible to better competition. So the need for anchors in the regional mall remains, as well as the need to provide innovative and new types of anchors. To the victor go the spoils. Another issue facing some suburban malls is overbuilding; although, I believe it has been overstated. The U.S. is littered with obsolete office, industrial and hotel (motel) product, but regional malls have become the lighten- ing rod of the popu- lar press. In reality, some one-mall towns have two malls and one will limp along or likely be redeveloped as a different retail format or as mixed- use projects, especially when located in areas of strong consumer demograph- ics. Plantation Fashion Mall in Planta- tion, Florida, as an example, closed eight years ago. Located less than a half-mile from a powerhouse regional mall, Planta- tion Fashion Mall succumbed to market forces. The vacant property has recently changed hands and will be redeveloped into a format far different than the nearby regional mall. It will likely contain a sub- stantial amount of retail as well as residen- tial and office uses. But on the bright side, if population growth estimates are to be believed, the U.S. will gain a tremendous number of new inhabitants, a good por- tion of which will come from immigration. Immigrants have traditionally resided first in the suburbs; so regional malls in these locations will likely be the center of life. The regional mall has remained a very flexible framework for the delivery of a shopping experience. It is adaptable to many cultures and a variety of develop- ment patterns. It could be argued that the family tree of the regional mall dates back to the Roman Forum (not the one in Las Vegas). In many towns, it is the de facto town center. In these markets the re- gional mall will continue to evolve into the community center. One would expect the mall to incorporate additional community uses such as: restaurants, health clubs, perhaps library locations and educational facilities. In order to remain relevant to these communities, integrating commu- nity programming, ranging from religious Hill Center Brentwood, in the Nashville suburb of Brentwood, Tennessee, will serve as a town center for the growing town. Cooper Carry is collaborating on the project with TMPartners. Angelo Carusi

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