Welcome to Cleverland, home to vision, positive criticism and noteworthy news for Cleveland, Ohio and the broader urban landscape!

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Next White Elephant: Lifestyle Centers

As the shopping centers of our not-too-distant yesteryear, such as Westgate, Severance and countless others have recently either announced close down-remodel-reopen strategies (West Gate) or have recently completed them (Severance), we're already seeing the new "lifestyle centers" of today feeling the effects of over-saturation.

Lyndhurst's Legacy Village opened two years ago as the first such center in our region, yet the addition of the second major center, Westlake's Crocker Park, clear on the other side of town has already eaten into its market share. As even more of these are on the drawing board or are already breaking ground throughout the region, I can't help but wonder how long it will be until this model is outdated and obsolete. We'll have 100,000+ square foot boxes sitting vacant, looking for ways to reinvent themselves as "the next big thing." Problem is, they'll keep popping up further and further out, until - in my opinion - the market turns back towards the center.

Evidence of this trend has been touched upon in recent discussions, such as the Ohio Planning Conference session on "New Urbanism v. True Urbanism" and in arcticles like the following in today's Crain's Cleveland Business.

Lifestyle change
At anniversaries, Crocker Park peddles nonretail space and Legacy Village looks at subsiding sales


6:00 am, October 24, 2005

October might be birthday time for Legacy Village in Lyndhurst and Crocker Park in Westlake, but who has time to blow out candles?

As Legacy Village wraps up its second year, its management reports a leveling off in sales as the lifestyle center's newness factor wears off. Meantime, Crocker Park (below), which is starting its second year, is branching out from its retail focus to push office space and housing.

Both centers consider themselves works in progress as they make plans to fill vacant space in the face of the quickly approaching holiday shopping season.

Although this is Legacy Village's third holiday season, marketing director Marcie B. Gilmore said this fall represents the first 'normal' fourth quarter yet.

'The first year was our grand opening, so in terms of tracking sales and all that … the concept being new was so intriguing,' Ms. Gilmore said. 'For the first full year, it was a destination, just to check it out, much like Crocker Park is now, because they're the new kid on the block.'

With Crocker Park's opening last year, Legacy Village had new competition and watched its sales decline in comparison to 2003's figures. Ms. Gilmore declined to provide specific sales figures or to quantify the decrease in sales from 2003 to 2004.

'We're in the leveling-off stage, which is fine, and we're still optimistic about the future,' Ms. Gilmore said. 'There is still a tremendous amount of interest in leasing the space.'

The article continues at www.crainscleveland.com and includes speculation over the recently vacated 92,000-square-foot former Expo Design Center, which represents a challenge for the center "because it's too small for something like an oft-mentioned Ikea furniture and accessories store — a rumor Ms. Gilmore shoots down regularly and definitively — and yet way too big for most specialty retailers."

Yet another piece of evidence that the only truly sustainable solution should lie within our central cities, with a focus on a true mixture of uses and incomes, transit connections and urban density.


Post a Comment

<< Home