A water fountain at theIrvine Spectrum.

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Wow-factor features at retail centers are becoming a standardfor owners, particularly in this challenging and competitive retailenvironment. Wow-factor features include water fountains and watershows and light shows. But, are these features worth theinvestment? According to Barry Caylor of Globaldesign-build construction company OTL, thesefeatures have a significant impact on ROI for retail owners bydriving consumer foot traffic and

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"Wow factor amenities provide direct ROI to developers andowners in a myriad of ways," Caylor, VP of business development atOTL, tells GlobeSt.com. "Inherently, these attention-grabbingattractions deliver an immediate increase in guest numbers and intheir length of stay, which in a retail environment has been provento increase sales. Retail REIT Macerich, for example, conductsongoing annual studies that point to fountains as key elements inincreasing sales by as much as $25 more per visit."

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It isn't only ROI. These features also drive marketing value, aswell, making the property more of a destination and catching theattention of passersby. "Wow-factor water features can also deliverbottom-line marketing value. Often, OTL designs and buildsfountains that launch water hundreds of feet into the air, makingthe property visible and noticeable to people driving anywhere nearthe development," says Caylor. "This immediately creates a locallandmark, and brings people in just as a large marketing signwould, but with no additional cost."

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In addition to consumer activity, these features also elevatethe quality of a retail center and can attract a more desirabletenant mix. This is a benefit that could have invaluable benefitsfor the center. "Retail owners and developers also benefit fromthese amenities' ability to attract a desirable tenant mix," saysCaylor. "Today's retailers understand the value ofwater-feature-front real estate within a mixed-use or retailenvironment, and will pay premium rents to operate in thosehigh-traffic areas."

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Finally, there is a community benefit as well, according toCaylor. "Another bottom-line benefit comes in the form of strongcommunity relationships," he says. "By introducing "wow" waterfeatures within mixed-use, public space, and retail environments,communities are delivering art, culture, and a sense of place thatelevates the community and ultimately contributes to an economicrise for the development and its surrounding properties."

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.