ORANGE COUNTY, CA—Have you heard the term “retailplacemaking”? The phrase sums up what so many executivesin the retail arena have been saying about where the sector isheaded, and it's how John Miller, founder and CEOof developer DJM Capital Partners, describes theevolution.


“It has evolved way beyond boutique,” Miller tells“It's putting together a mix of uses that create more of anexperience instead of satisfying a daily-needs use like groceriesor pharmacy. It's curated with offerings that include a variety ofmenus and trends, a focus on higher aesthetics and views, and theoverall experience of 'this is a cool place to be'—a place to comeback to again and again instead of just a place to shop in. Thesensory experience is way beyond shopping.”


DJM is the developer of such iconic placemaking retail andmixed-use Orange County properties as Pacific City in Huntington Beach and Lido Marina Village in Newport Beach. Millersays developing—or in the case of Lido Marina Village,redeveloping—properties like these is “fun andcreative. It takes a little more time and money than traditionaldevelopment, between the aesthetics, thelandscaping and the design, but at the end of the day, yourcustomers—which are divided between retailers, restaurant operatorsand guests—will like it if it's really well thought out.”


Miller calls the sea change in retailing “an evolution. Retailis changing by and large because of the evolution of e-commerce. Itused to be a good sub-anchor was enough to drive customers to acenter, but if that's your strategy today, you're doomed to failbecause customers can go online to buy most products. You're tryingto create something outside of the real of the typical retailexperience.”


Speaking to from the recent ICSCRECon in Las Vegas, Miller says retail is a seller'smarket. “The amount of capital available for acquiring all kinds ofproperties throughout the US is at a high level. Properties aretrading at very high prices. There's lots of optimism, a positiveenergy and a lot of transacting because sellers are achievingprices they thought they wouldn't achieve for a long time. It's avery captive market, and lots of investors are attempting to deploycapital and gain yield, which is extraordinarily difficult to get.There's massive pressure on upward price mobility.”

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Carrie Rossenfeld

Carrie Rossenfeld is a reporter for the San Diego and Orange County markets on and a contributor to Real Estate Forum. She was a trade-magazine and newsletter editor in New York City before moving to Southern California to become a freelance writer and editor for magazines, books and websites. Rossenfeld has written extensively on topics including commercial real estate, running a medical practice, intellectual-property licensing and giftware. She has edited books about profiting from real estate and has ghostwritten a book about starting a home-based business.