Runyon Group LLC’s brand of artfully crafted retail center merchandising is in high demand these days.
The development and brokerage firm has been inking deals faster than most in downtown retail for New York real estate investment firm Atlas Capital Group LLC’s Row DTLA project — 30 acres on the outskirts of the Arts District — with more than 25 deals now under its belt. Runyon just announced hot Los Angeles digital brand Reformation is set to open another store at their Platform development in Culver City, Calif., where the company will also relocate its headquarters from downtown. Meantime, they disclosed this week that they’ve also partnered with Atlas on the repositioning of a Woodland Hills shopping center.
“Look, we all know the retail business is changing a lot and it’s changing at a rapid pace even more so than it used to,” said Joey Miller, who started Runyon with David Fishbein.
Runyon’s largest project by far is the Row DTLA, which this month announced the formation of its Spring Collective collection of nine pop-ups that includes an Artists in Residence Program featuring works by artists such as The Cartorialist’s Carly Kuhn, L.A. design studio Capsule, Milla Chocolates and Tokyobike. The development — housing the headquarters of companies such as Splendid, Ella Moss, J Brand and the former American Apparel factory — hosted an 11-vendor holiday collection of temporary shops late last year.
“There are plenty of great brands out there,” Miller said. “There are so many emerging brands and they’re not ready-to-sign leases. And as the owners, collectively, we’re not ready to make [long-term] commitments to folks. What the collectives do is allow us the opportunity to reach out to a broader group of merchants to try out new concepts.”
It’s that mix of both the permanent and temporary that is the right equation for the Row DTLA and the market right now, Miller said.
“We’re constantly evaluating what the needs of the community are and the right [tenant] mix, but I think that experiences are a huge piece of what we’re doing at the Row and I think that those [pop-up experiences] will in almost all likelihood have a space within the long-term vision.”
The allocation of dedicated space for brands to pop into is something many developers are dabbling with, including Westfield and Caruso.
If the speed at which deals are being signed at the Los Angeles project is any measure of success, it’s doing well.
“We live in our Row bubble,” Miller said. “I know there’s a lot of big interest in downtown and in the Arts District, in particular, but frankly we’re our own neighborhood. We’ve signed more than 25 leases at Row….So the leasing momentum’s been tremendous and people are very into the idea of coming downtown, but they’ve really also sort of bought into Row as it’s own space and it’s own neighborhood.”
While the downtown project will keep Runyon busy, it’s focus is also on other projects. It disclosed this week a new development it hopes will create a gathering space for people in the west valley in much the same way it aims to do in downtown. The Valley Country Mart is a rehab project of a Fifties shopping village expected to debut in spring 2018 with more details to come, Miller said.
Meanwhile, Platform — a funky boutique gathering hole of merchants in what was once dilapidated car dealerships — remains fully leased with permanent tenants such as Blue Bottle Coffee, Aesop, Janessa Leone, Poketo, Magasin and Linda Farrow.
Reformation’s store is slated to come online next month with three more restaurants also set to bow there throughout this year and into early 2018.