Shopping Center Business

MAY 2016

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

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COVER STORY 130 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • May 2016 upon with all of these centers," says Levin. Centennial also won't stop with adding theaters and restaurants. The company is developing a defined merchandising plan for each of the centers. "It's getting inside the mall and going beyond that initial layer," explains Levin. "We have to look at where we can take each of these centers to go beyond where they stand now." In the 1970s and '80s, when Levin spent years on the tenant side of the business, he says that while 50 percent of the inline space went to national tenants, 50 percent was reserved for regional and local ten- ants in order to differentiate each center. He'd like to see this approach incorporat- ed into Centennial's centers. "We have to get back to more unique tenants," Levin says. "We want to bring back the local component into the malls because they bring the community experience." In addition to some new tenants, Cen- tennial is adding components like family entertainment and theaters. The compa- ny is in the early stages of formulating plans and deciphering the opportunities that exist in its new acquisitions. NEW ADDITIONS One of the reasons that Centennial pur- chased the portfolio from Westfield was that these properties were the dominant regional centers in their trade areas. Even the centers located in larger MSAs, like those in the Chicago area, are among the strongest centers in the area. Others are dominant for an entire region. Vancouver Mall is the dominant regional center for the southern half of Washington, for in- stance, and Connecticut Post Mall is the dominant regional center for a large pop- ulation of Connecticut. Because the centers are so different than the properties that Centennial had under its control before, it has brought on a lot of expertise to operate them. Aside from new corporate staff, the company brought on board the majority of the center-level employees who operated the properties for Westfield. This approach allowed Centennial a short transition time before the closing of the deal. "We were fortunate to retain the man- agers at all of the centers and the majority of the staffs," Levin says. "They were in- tegral to us being able to transition these malls, while continuing to operate them successfully." Centennial has built a leasing team fo- cused on leasing its malls as a package. The Centennial Collection brand will help the company market the properties to retailers. The next step is looking at each center to better understand what specifically, if anything, needs to be add- ed or improved as far as tenants go. Ad- ditionally, the longer-term plan, which is taking a macro view of each center, will be executed to determine any development needs. Centennial is in the process of hir- ing a head of development to spearhead this strategy. "We see each center as a regional hub," says Levin. "We are looking at the site; not just the center, but what we can do in terms of creating more density on the land and if there are opportunities for oth- er complementary uses. We want to take full advantage of the dominance of these destinations." With management of the centers quick- ly stabilized, the company is now looking ahead at the future of the company and the centers. "The key members are in place," says Sheridan. "We have been fortunate to maintain a really strong team in the field. Combined with our corporate staff, we have a solid core team. We look forward to the launch of what we refer to as Cen- tennial 2.0. We are positioned at the ground floor of an amazing opportunity to create remarkable assets; as we move ahead we will determine the highest and best use of all of our real estate." Part of that new Centennial is redefin- ing an existing company by its properties. Doing so is causing leadership to create a new culture reflective of the quality of its new acquisitions combined with its repu- tation of the past. "We want to create a culture that is de- fined by the utmost level of integrity and Main Place Mall in Santa Ana, California, combines retail, entertainment and dining for a strong destination. The 1.1 million-square-foot center is anchored by Nordstrom, JC Penney, Macy's, Ashley Furniture Home Store, Round 1 Bowling and Amusement, 24 Hour Fitness and a six- screen movie theater. Dan Sheridan, COO of Centennial Real Estate.

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