Shopping Relief

Christmas is no time to lounge around — or is it? American Express, aware of just how grueling the hunt for gifts can be, has expanded its "Members Lounge" concept to two upscale shopping centers: The Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey and the Natick Collection in Massachusetts.

The lounges opened Nov. 16 and, if all goes well, lounges in other malls will be considered for next year's holiday season. In 2006, only the Mall at Short Hills offered the amenity.

The space offers refreshments, coat check, a restroom, seating areas, iPod and cell phone charging stations and an e-mail station, all complimentary to American Express Cardmembers. There are also free gift-wrap services, gift cards are available and members can redeem their points for merchandise on the spot, including cameras, Xbox 360 video game systems and iPhones.

Green Team


Mackenzie Keck, a general contracting, construction management and consulting firm for retailers and other sectors, acquired the green building consulting firm Global Thinking LLC. Global Thinking will be led by green building consultant and architect Frank Sherman, who was named vice president of Mackenzie Keck. He has more than 20 years experience and has worked on projects such as the new 7 World Trade Center, Sprint World Headquarters, Merrill Lynch Corporate Center and the Montclair State University Academic Building and Student Recreation Center. "The value of high-performance green buildings is greater than its environmental and economic benefit," Sherman said. "It represents the new benchmark for quality design and construction."

Global Thinking will offer consulting and construction services to Mackenzie Keck and focus on the latest green building technology, energy-efficient design, materials and finishes that create healthy indoor air and assessing existing buildings for adaptations and reuse.

"With the addition of Global Thinking, green building is clearly becoming a major focus of what we do each day," Mackenzie Keck founder and chief executive officer Dan Keck said. "It's our responsibility to make good choices available to our clients."

Vikram K. Reddi, president of Mackenzie Keck, added: "Green is clearly fashionable, but there's much more to this trend. Developers and other business people are realizing that green is critical from a bottom-line perspective."Mackenzie Keck said lighting, cooling and maintenance account for as much as 85 percent of a building's 50-year life-cycle cost, and greener buildings average a 7.5 percent increase in value over comparable standard buildings, with a 6.6 percent better return on investment.

Streets of Gold

Fifth Avenue remains the world's most expensive shopping destination, according to Cushman & Wakefield's annual "Main Streets Across the World" report tracking the top 231 shopping locations in 44 countries.

An average 1,000 square feet on Fifth Avenue's most expensive stretch — 49th Street to 59th Street — costs around $1.5 million a year, up 11 percent from 2006.

John Strachan, C&W's global head of retail, said in a statement: "We are seeing no signs of letup in the demand for the right space in the right location, despite the anticipated slowdown in the global economy for 2008. Retailers are continuing unabated with their aggressive drive into new markets, both mature and emerging. This, in turn, is helping to support and, indeed, increase rents in key retail locations around the world, where availability is tight and turnover of units is limited."

Gene Spiegelman, executive director of C&W in New York, said: "Fifth Avenue has maintained its dominant position as the world-class destination for global brands looking to establish a retail presence." He said rents doubled in the past five years from $750 to $1,500 a square foot on ground floors.

According to the rankings, Hong Kong's Causeway Bay is second, at $1,213, followed by Paris' Champs-Elysées, $922, London's New Bond Street, $814, Tokyo's Ginza, $683, and Grafton Street in Dublin, $669.

The locations seeing the highest percent increase in rent from June 2006 to June 2007 were Chicago's East Oak Street, with a 100 percent gain; New Delhi's Ansal Plaza and Connaught Place, each with an 87.5 percent gain, and Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg, Russia, with an 81.8 percent rise. Rodeo Drive rose 71.4 percent.

Urban Action

With some new partners, Urban Retail Properties Co. LLC, based in Chicago, has acquired Oakland Mall, in Troy, Mich., which has more than 1.5 million square feet and features Macy's, J.C. Penney, Sears and 125 specialty stores.The venture expands Urban's role from a full-service leasing and management company to also purchasing properties and building ground-up developments. Last month, the California State Teachers' Retirement System injected $200 million in equity and RAIT Financial Trust purchased a 25 percent stake in Urban to finance purchases and projects.

Ross Glickman, chief executive officer of Urban, said in a statement: "The purchase of Oakland Mall is a pivotal moment for Urban as it marks the first acquisition in the company's financial revitalization."

Urban has been awarded management and leasing contracts for Garden City Center in Rhode Island, 270 Center in Gaithersburg, Md., Village Shops at Salem in New Hampshire and Tropical Shoppes in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

"Adding these new management and leasing contracts to our portfolio further solidifies Urban's goal to grow our core business," said Glickman.

Macerich Moves

Macerich plans to transform the 42-year-old Mall at Northgate into the largest enclosed regional mall in affluent Marin County, Calif. Located 20 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, the renovated center will be 725,000 square feet in the same footprint as the current shopping center. Pending local approvals, the project is slated for fall 2009 completion. Key elements include glass rollaway doors that will slide away in fair weather, landscaped outdoor courtyards, a brighter, lighter design and an opportunity to attract some new retail and restaurant offerings. The mall's anchors include Macy's, Mervyns, Sears and Century Theatres.

In December, Macerich will break ground on Estrella Falls, a 106-acre, 1-million-square-foot outdoor shopping streetscape in Goodyear, Ariz. The regional center will open in 2009 and has lined up Coach, White House|Black Market, Chico's and anchors Dillard's and Harkins Theatre. The Market at Estrella Falls, adjacent to the regional mall, will open in fall 2008.

Party Central

Manhattan has a new event venue with a clean, open ambience called Terminal 5. It's housed in the former Club Exit, at 610 West 56th Street, and has 40,000 square feet, including a main floor and two mezzanines, 40-foot ceilings, custom sound and lighting systems, three bars, five green rooms, rooftop space and ground-floor loading."We are working on some big fashion events, product launches, parties and benefits," including ESPN The Magazine's 10th anniversary party, said Fred Seidler, of the Fred Seidler Group, which has the exclusive contract to present events at Terminal 5. "It's a very large, column-free space but also a very intimate space because you have wraparound mezzanines, small private areas and a rooftop. We can do events for 20 people on the rooftop or a huge party for 4,000 people over the entire space."

Architect Brian Swier designed the multimillion-dollar renovation.

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