Shopping Center Business

MAY 2018

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

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BELL TOWER SHOPS 108 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • May 2018 A lthough it can be sad to see long- time tenants go, Madison Mar- quette saw an opportunity for much-needed change when Saks Fifth Avenue closed in fall 2016 at Bell Tow- er Shops. The store opened in 1996 in a 40,000-square-foot building at the north end of the open-air center in Fort Myers, Florida. It left behind a space that was the catalyst for launching what the company calls "Bell Tower 2.0," an exciting remake of a Fort Myers classic. "Initially people might think an anchor leaving us is a bad thing," says Whitney Livingston, senior vice president of man- agement services for Madison Marquette. "But for us, it's created an incredible opportunity." Madison Marquette has owned the as- set since 1995 with partner Principal, an insurance company that has $668.6 billion in assets under management. The center was built in 1982 and underwent renova- tions in 1997 and 2009. It's anchored by The Fresh Market, Bed Bath & Beyond and a 20-screen Regal Cinema. Specialty retailers include Williams-Sonoma, Aveda Zen Salon and ULTA Beauty. The popular center sits at U.S. 41, also known as Tamiami Trail, and Daniels Parkway — retail main and main, accord- ing to Madison Marquette. With more than 50 miles of beaches and parks, the Fort Myers and Lee County areas receive $3 billion annually from visitors' spend- ing. Annual household income within three miles of the center is $67,927. Pop- ulation is booming, too. Two Lee Coun- ty cities, Fort Myers and Bonita Springs, both made the list of the U.S. Census Bureau's 15 fastest growing cities in 2017. Construction began in March to bring the 343,000-square-foot Bell Tower Shops into its next life. The project will create inviting gathering areas, updated architecture, raised rooflines, redesigned storefronts, fresh paint, new landscaping and lighting. Overall, the architectural changes will prioritize access, visibility and signage, taking down walls and opening up the center. The interior of the shops will be more visible from the outside, and entryways will be more pronounced. The signature pink exterior color and Medi- terranean style will be replaced with con- temporary palettes and materials, and the logo will be updated. Along with the physical refresh, Bell Tower will also receive a tenanting up- date that will flip the center into an ex- periential destination. The former Saks space will be home to a Dave & Buster's, scheduled to open in early 2019. A key ingredient of Bell Tower's trans- formation will be adding more options where guests can eat and drink. A study commissioned by Madison Marquette concluded that the Fort Myers market is undersupplied in restaurants and could sustain $50 million more revenue from food and beverage. Therefore, after the redevelopment, Bell Tower's food and beverage GLA will increase from 17 percent of its current total tenant mix, including outparcels, to comprise approximately 30 percent of its tenants. "This increase will not only come about through evolving the existing F&B spac- es into more current concepts, but also by converting a significant amount of existing retail space into restaurants that encourage large patios and activated com- mon areas," Livingston says. The company is planning to populate the center with unique restaurant ten- ants that offer something unexpected. Society, a chef-driven restaurant, opened in November, replacing a Johnny Rock- ets. The restaurant is led by executive chef Todd Erickson, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who has appeared on the Food Network show 18 Hours With Bell Tower Madison Marquette is redeveloping Bell Tower Shops into an all- day-and-night destination with a sleek, modern new look. Lynn Peisner Architectural changes at Bell Tower Shops will prioritize access, visibility and signage, taking down walls and opening up the center. The interior of the shops will be more visible from the outside.

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