“Densification” and “fortress” have become two of the shopping center industry’s favorite buzzwords as owners look for ways to pack more variety into malls to make them impervious to the competition and less susceptible to the vagaries of consumer tastes.
Macerich is burnishing Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, Calif., one of its trophy shopping centers, which in October will turn 65.
A major renovation will add 315,000 square feet of new space, new parking and outdoor amenities to the open air center, which is anchored by Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Macy’s.
The latter underwent a 57,000-square-foot expansion in November that saw the men’s store move from a separate location to the redesigned 247,000-square-foot unit.
Macerich demolished 80,000 square feet of retail space and two older parking structures to create the new retail space, including some two-level flagships with street entrances.
Art Coppola, Macerich’s chairman and ceo, called the redesign and expansion of Broadway Plaza an example of the company’s ability to “successfully densify our fortress retail centers to meet retailers’ expansion needs, as well as offer our shoppers an enhanced and upgraded store selection.”
“We had a wonderful location and great anchors,” said Robert Perlmutter, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer of Macerich. “The challenge we had was that the small store space wasn’t big enough to accommodate the demand from specialty retailers.”
Macerich announced 45 new retailers. About half of the group opened last year, including Apex, Athleta, Ivivva, Kit and Ace, Lou & Grey, Lululemon, Avea, Kiehl’s, Michael Kors, Madewell, Tesla and Vince Camuto. Opening this year are Arhaus, Aritzia, Hanna Andersson, H&M, J.Jill, Lucky Brand Jeans, True Religion Brand Jeans, Soma and Zara, among others.
“Broadway Plaza is in the middle of downtown Walnut Creek,” Perlmutter said. “It’s very much a lifestyle mix, not necessarily a luxury mix, although we have a Neiman Marcus.”
The large presence of ath-leisure brands is a reflection of the community’s interest in fitness, Perlmutter said, noting that Lululemon is relocating from downtown Walnut Creek to Broadway Plaza. A SoulCycle studio should also be a draw, he added.
True Food Kitchen, which serves vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes based on an anti-inflammatory diet, will appeal to Broadway Plaza’s shoppers. “For the daylong customer, it meshes in with many retail uses and is a great complement to SoulCycle,” Perlmutter said. “The open air nature of the center allows us to do outdoor dining.”
With Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn headquartered in San Francisco, “home is definitely top of mind,” Perlmutter said, explaining the large showing of home concepts on the mall’s roster. “It’s been a good category in our portfolio for the last couple of years.”
Arhaus, Gap, H&M and Zara will build two-level, flagships. “Throughout our top-tier centers, brands are looking to present in flagship locations,” Perlmutter said. “They serve a lot of purposes for the retailer, including higher sales and the ability to display a full array of product. They’re also tied into their e-commerce business.”
Broadway Plaza offers complimentary valet parking. Roving ambassadors and text concierge programs are being instituted for mobile-minded shoppers. “Obviously, the development of mobile apps has influenced the way we service our customer,” Perlmutter said. “Instead of old model, where you walk up to an information desk or directory, you can text a question to the concierge and get a response right away. We’re using the Internet and mobile apps to better serve our customer.”