chi-RSpace2 (2) Best Buy provided the Rspace in Winston Plaza, a center in Melrose Park, IL, with a large smart TV, and the space also features a buffet table for food or meeting related items, connected restroom and free Wi-Fi.

CHICAGO—Developers and landlords in the retail sector are all striving to make their properties go-to destinations rather than mere places to shop. NewMark Merrill Cos., a Woodland Hills, CA-based developer, has hit upon a strategy for one of its Chicago-area properties that may provide helpful lessons for owners in any region. A few months ago, the company opened Rspace, a community gathering space, at Winston Plaza, a 404,471-square-foot power center located on the corner of North Ave. and 9th Ave. in suburban Melrose Park.

The 950-square-foot space provides merchants, nonprofits, and community groups with a free, convenient and central place to meet, socialize or hosts groups of up to 30 people. And even though providing such an amenity was at one time considered unusual for retail operators, NewMark officials say for them the move was a natural one.

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Brian J. Rogal

Brian J. Rogal is a Chicago-based freelance writer with years of experience as an investigative reporter and editor, most notably at The Chicago Reporter, where he concentrated on housing issues. He also has written extensively on alternative energy and the payments card industry for national trade publications.

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