Renaissance MarketplaceRenaissance Marketplace

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The social distancing of the last few weeks have taken a toll onretailers. But once that ends, the sector will focus even morestrongly on the importance of internet-resistant tenants. Thisinclude experiential retailers, like restaurants and entertainmentvenues, and daily needs retailers, like grocery stores and drycleaners. But, according to Greg Lyon ofNadel Architecture + Planning, retail ownersshould be focused on the environment.

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"The environment is the anchor in today's retail experience,"Lyon, principal and design director at Nadel, tells GlobeSt.com."There is always a disruptor in retail, and today it is ecommerceand online shopping. As a result, retail owners are trying toincrease visitation and length-of-stay for shoppers on site. You dothat be treating the environment as a place where people are goingto hang out. Regardless of how retail changes, we are always goingto need that place. It is part of our culture and part of oursocieties. As an industry, we need to be less fixated on theline-up of tenants and more focused on the environment for thecommunity."

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The overall retail experience has always been important, but itis becoming more essential with online shopping as a competitor."With the shifting of uses at retail destinations, and by that, Imean less commodity driven retail, there are becoming moreenvironments that create a place for the community to gather andmulti-generational families to hang out," says Lyon.

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In fact, the environment is as important in attracting consumersas the tenant mix. "I think looking at retail through the lens ofdaily needs is the wrong way to look at it," he says. "You have tounderstand who is going to hang out there and how the space isgoing to support those people. We need to look at how the place isa necessary part of the community; the completion of uses; and howwe are going to support the uses with the environment that we arecreating."

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To create that environment, Lyon is working alongside developersto curate living room-styled spaces for community members. Thisincludes lounge furniture, wifi connections, and ambianceboosters—like water fountains. However, he is also looking to thecommunity needs to guide the environment, that means morecomfortable furniture for areas with more senior citizens ordog-friendly features for areas with a high concentration of dogowners. "You have to look at the expectation of the community," hesays. "You have to understand who is going to hang out there andhow the space is going to support those people. There isn't aone-size fits all. You want to create an authenticity to theenvironment. That is number one: authenticity. From there, youstart to move into what the space is going to look like and feellike, and answering those questions from a design perspective.While it is more than putting table and chairs and water featuresin places, those elements are the tools that we use to create theseenvironments."

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Nadel recently completed the design of Renaissance Marketplace,a brand-new, 500,000 square-foot retail center in Rialto,California, on behalf of Lewis Retail Centers. The center includesoutdoor living rooms and gathering places for the community.

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These spaces work in both indoor and outdoor retail centers, andultimately are dependent on the geographic location. "Sometimes, weget caught up in open air versus enclosed mall environments," saysLyon. "We are finding that when we are working in locations withinclement weather, enclosed mall environments are still desirable.Having said, that in climates with good weather, like SouthernCalifornia, people love to be outdoors."

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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.