LAS VEGAS — By mass market standards, it's audacious — Wal-Mart with a graceful curved marquee and a multicolored facade. Or a Target with a wide pedestrian brick plaza, palm trees and a distinctively Floridian feel.
The Wal-Mart is situated in City Place in Long Beach, Calif., and the Target prototype is headed for the 650,000-square-foot Shops at Midtown Miami, an "urban infill" opening in fall 2006.
The projects, both from Developers Diversified Realty Corp., based in Beachwood, Ohio, underscore how developers are trying to break out of the mold. They know they've got a jaded consumer on their hands, and that creating something new and different is crucial, particularly after a decade of building downtown projects, suburban malls and lifestyle centers that often seem contrived, the same as the one in the next county or passe by the time they open.
At the International Council of Shopping Centers convention, held here May 22-25, developers promoting projects in the works also hyped all the restaurants, cafes, theaters, apartments and parks they're incorporating into space that has come available due to the rush of department store consolidation recently. Overall, developers are reorienting projects to be mixed use; looking to do more downtown revitalizations, rather than build in the already over-malled suburbs, and believe that consumers, if they are looking for anything in particular, it's convenience, meaning they don't want to go far to shop, dine or enjoy a park.
They still insisted, however, that retailing is at the core of their projects, and it's where the planning has to begin in order to attract the nonretail elements. Some were heartened by what they see as a wave of new retail concepts on the horizon, with Gap, American Eagle Outfitters, Aeropostale and Limited Brands all planning additional divisions to capture wider demographics.
There are also several emerging specialty chains developers are latching onto, among them Swoozie's, a new retailer for contemporary gifts, accessories and stationery; Lucy, an activewear chain out of Portland, Ore., with about 15 stores; Sony Style, which operates 17 stores and has seven announced openings, according to its Web site, and Hallmark Cards, which is adding product lines and gifts. They are also looking to established expansion-minded fashion retailers such as Lacoste, Scoop, The Apple Store and Ted Baker.
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