Smart developers are no strangers to redeveloping tired retail assets in high-traffic locations. NewMark Merrill is one of those developers. Two of the projects the firm was showing to retailers at the ICSC Western Division conference in San Diego last week were Twin Peaks Mall, in Longmont, CO; and Winston Plaza, in Melrose Park, CO.
Both are major renovation projects. Twin Peaks is a de-malling situation where the firm hopes to add a state of the art movie, theater, restaurant pads and other tenants. Winston Plaza, completed in 2011, grabbed Meijer as an anchor tenant as part of its overhaul, which included other tenant changes.
Sandy Sigal, NewMark’s chief executive and president spoke with us about both projects.
What is attractive about the Colorado market?
Sigal: Colorado is a great place to do business. The municipalities are very pro-business and have a series of redevelopment tools they can use to help facilitate investment. The population is very well educated, generally very outdoor oriented, and very family oriented. There are two major colleges (Boulder and CSU), a number of high technology companies – Lucent, HP, and others – and is growing as the center for alternative energy sources. During the boom cycle, the housing market did not have the heavy increase in pricing that plagued other communities, so foreclosure rates are fairly low. In other words, the economy is diversified and growing, the population has a very affordable housing stock, and with 300 days of sunshine, mountains, lakes and a number of ways to enjoy the various communities, the population will continue to be staple and growing.
Are you looking for more expansion opportunities there?
Sigal: Absolutely, but based on a rationale growth plan around the population centers.
What do you envision this property to be like after the renovation?
Sigal: The property will be repopulated to provide many of the amenities of nearby Boulder, at a lower cost, and with a more shopper friendly environment. We have developed a plan which has a mix of outdoor walking, relaxing and community centric activities, combined with a theater and daily needs component, and a nice mix of fast food to sit down restaurants.
What has been the tenant interest so far?
Sigal: About 50% of the space is being negotiated.
What are your ideas for re-branding?
Sigal: This will be branded as the center of Longmont and the surrounding the community. We are going to take advantage of the view of Twin Peaks, the mountain ranges, looking down on the center.
What makes the Melrose Park market unique and how do you market it to tenants?
Sigal: Melrose Park is a major suburb of the Chicagoland market. North Avenue is a major thoroughfare which connects many of the adjacent communities to downtown. The Village has had a long-term Italian community, as well as a growing Hispanic market, as well as other long-term residents. The leadership of the Village has been very pro-business and has been able to attract many employers, and major retailers such as Walmart, Costco, Target, as well as most other major retailers. Our location is blessed with a large AMC across the street, Everest College, a major occupational college, and a Target and Jewel across from our site.
Now that you have Meijer in, what is next for the center?
Sigal: Meijer has been in occupancy for the last six months and built a new 90,000-square-foot prototype. With their signing we relocated the Chuck E. Cheese from across the street into a large store in our center. We also added Annas Linen’s, 5 Below, Villa Shoes, as well as several other tenants.
What made Meijer the right tenant to tie the center together?
Sigal: They are the perfect mix of a value oriented grocery store (known for their great meat and produce section), along with great value softgoods. This give our center a very high traffic generator which give both our soft goods and daily needs tenants a real boast.
What kinds of other opportunities are you looking for in the Chicagoland area?
Sigal: Similar sites with high density and supportive municipalities.