BAL HARBOUR, Fla. — A third-generation member of family-owned Bal Harbour Shops is proving he has the right stuff.
Since coming on board in 2003, Matthew Lazenby, the 29-year-old grandson of founder Stanley Whitman, has been groomed to take over Whitman's son Randy's position as director of leasing. A general partner as well, Lazenby has been instrumental in the center's evolution and restructuring of tenants for the next affluent generation, a demographic he understands and exemplifies. The property's long-standing success and Lazenby's strategy have other retailers and real estate developers planning to capitalize on overflow.
"It wasn't as if I joined a sinking ship. This place has been phenomenal since opening in the Sixties," said Lazenby, a Miami native who grew up shadowing the Whitmans at work. "But I knew we could do a better job reaching the children of our core, older Neiman Marcus customer, so they wouldn't shop south."
Lazenby got busy bringing in specialty store chains like Calypso and Intermix, and relocating Oxygene, a multibrand designer and contemporary boutique, upstairs to solidify direction. The first level was overhauled with new, luxury jewelry tenants like Harry Winston and Graff, and edgier European and American designer brands such as Pucci, Marc Jacobs and Chloé, which opened its third U.S. store, of 2,500 square feet, in March. Some stores were phased out as leases expired, men's wear was given greater attention with the additions of Brioni and Domenico Vacca, and long-term tenants including Brooks Brothers and Yves Saint Laurent were downsized and redesigned for more efficient layouts and sales potential.
"My grandfather likes to kid I'm the only one in our family with previous retail experience, and it really does help to have perspective on what other shopping centers are doing," he said.
Working for other real estate firms gave Lazenby insight into what tenants desire to be satisfied and profitable, and what shopping centers require to remain exciting and money-making, he said. The University of North Carolina graduate said he learned both sides of the business through representing tenants at Robert K. Futterman & Associates, the retail real estate firm in New York, followed by a leasing agent position with Taubman Centers, the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based real estate investment trust that develops and manages shopping centers throughout the U.S.
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