Getting Ahead of The Nomenclature
Innovative New Projects Cross The Boundaries of Traditional Asset-Class Definitions
The widespread closure or repurposing of department store spaces is upending decades-old retail dynamics at many malls. Ron Wheeler, CEO of The Sembler Co., points to Sears Holdings’ redevelopment strategy, executed through its relationships with Seritage Growth properties, a publicly traded REIT. “They are taking a big chunk of their stores and redeveloping them with all different kinds of uses: restaurants, gyms, sporting goods and things of that nature,”Wheeler said.
But are these changes so profound as to require rethinking the basic names used for retail assets? At times some owners do wonder whether the longstanding classifications are the right fit. Technically, Sembler’s new project that is a Publix-anchored Amberly Place, in Cary, N.C., would fit into ICSC’s definition of a “community center.” But the 77,000 SF property, which is to break ground this year, is quite a departure from the typical grocery0anchored shopping center, according to Josh Beyer, Sembler’s senior vice president of development. Its village like design offers public gathering spaces, outdoor dining, and wide sidewalks– amenities more typical of a lifestyle center, he explains. “It creates places for the community to congregate and spend more time than what you typically see in a ‘neighborhood shopping center,’ as defined by the industry. “It’s about creating a unique experience to help drive sales and traffic t that center, versus a more historically traditional design, with retail-oriented to the street, with parking out front.”
Sembler has used the term of its own making — “mixed-use lifestyle center” — to describe in-town, live-work-play properties such as Town Brookhaven or Perimeter Place, both of which are in Atlanta. “These are properties that are mixed-use in that they have residential and some office,” Wheeler said, “but they also have lifestyle center elements to them.”