Western Real Estate Business

SEP 2018

Western Real Estate Business magazine covers the multifamily, retail, office, healthcare, industrial and hospitality sectors in the Western United States.

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54 • September 2018 • Western Real Estate Business www.REBusinessOnline.com R achel Forman, vice president of marketing for Phoenix-based Vestar, knows it's not al- ways the merchandise that gets shoppers into shopping centers nowadays. While there are many paths to acquiring a desired item, she also knows that novel experiences cannot be deliv- ered to one's front door. This is why the privately held real estate company has placed an emphasis on activation. From programming to holiday events, pop-up shops to community gatherings, Vestar is look- ing to add an element of surprise, innovation and novelty to the standard shopping center experience. Why is it so crucial to activate a retail center today? Forman: We all know brick-and-mortar retail is in a tough spot. But, the good news is we've learned there are some things ecommerce sim- ply can't replace for consumers. While the ac- tual act of shopping is what continues to drive traffic to stores, it's crucial that retail center landlords and property managers create more innovative experiences to get shoppers away from their devices and through the door. Im- plementing short-term "see it before it's gone" activations, interactive and experiential market- ing, an omnichannel presence, etc. This strategy will not only get people back into stores, but will keep them on property and engaged for a lot longer. What types of strategies is Vestar undertaking to execute these activations? Forman: We understand the value of a strong marketing strategy from top-to-bottom — as centers, for our retailers and for our communi- ties. We strive to create distinct programs and experiences you generally wouldn't expect in a tradi- tional retail environment. For example, Vestar centers em- phasize public art, enhance common areas for guests to gather and linger, and host community-driven events and festivals. In anything ac- tivation we undertake, we're always looking for at least one special strategy to elevate it and set it apart from the norm, keeping every- thing fresh and making our guests wanting to come back for more. How can a property manager convince a land- lord to spend the capital and resources to acti- vate a center? Forman: Simply put, it all comes down to driv- ing traffic and sales to a center's stores. If the property management team can clearly show the impact to a center's sales, these initiatives can be a win-win, and a great way to set a center apart from the rest of the herd. What types of activations do you think we'll see in retail centers down the road? Forman: What's old is actually new again, and experiences can't be bought online. Traffic-gen- erating events and ongoing programming cre- ates engagement and reinforces a property as a center of the community. It's an exciting time in our industry, for anyone who's really paying attention. So long as you create activations by actually listening to your audience and staying ahead of the curve, the possibilities for the fu- ture are endless. — Nellie Day ENGAGING IN UNCERTAIN TIMES Experiences can be positive or negative at a retail center, which is why many landlords and property managers are implementing activation strategies to enhance their offerings. Forman Though new ground-up centers still debut from time to time in California, industry players are, by and large, focused on redevelopments, mergers and trades. This isn't a bad thing, if you ask Thompson — at least as far as current players are concerned. "The recent Allen Matkins/UCLA Anderson Forecast noted the con- tinued decline in retail development sentiment," he says. "That could be a good thing for the owners of ex- isting assets. On quarterly earnings calls, you'll actually hear shopping center REIT CEOs talk about how the low supply bodes well for their repo- sitioned portfolios. They're moving into strong markets, investing heavily in existing assets and benefitting from the relative lack of competition amid this low supply." In today's tech-heavy, efficiency- driven environment, sometimes less really is more. n W H A T ' S B U G G I N ' Y O U ? Pest Control for Professionally Managed Properties OFFICE RETAIL INDUSTRIAL RESIDENTIAL Eco-Friendly Solutions | Serving Southern California Pest Control Pigeon Control Termite Control Rodent Control Bee Control Gopher Control 1.877.522.2377 | www.AccessExt.com Thousands enjoy the Rock It Up Concert Series at Tempe Marketplace in Tempe, Ariz. The Gateway in Salt Lake City hosts weekly yoga on the plaza with Salt Lake Power Yoga. The art event, "12 Artists. 12 Weeks. 12 Murals" was hosted by Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance at Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix.

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