Revitalize Commercial Properties by Repositioning them into Vibrant Marketplaces
By Mark Seabold
With more and more people turning to online retailers for their shopping needs commercial properties are facing different challenges than before. With confidence in our nation’s economy on the rise, Shive-Hattery is helping our clients capitalize on the changing retail environment by reimagining existing properties into mixed-use, activated developments that incorporate social experiences.
The upcoming Northtowne Marketplace on Blairs Ferry Road in Cedar Rapids, developed on the former Nash-Finch Co. distribution center site, is an excellent example of finding the potential in an underutilized piece of land. The old buildings are demolished and a new marketplace was designed from scratch, but that might not always be the best or most cost-effective option. Our Collins Crossing project in Cedar Rapids repurposed a vacant K-Mart into several mid-sized retail spaces, successfully making use of the existing structure. Both these projects took advantage of already vibrant retail areas and found ways to expand the areas retail and social offerings.
Failing malls are another good candidate for repositioning. These projects typically lack engaging public spaces for interaction so we focus on creating welcoming pedestrian plazas and marketplaces with a variety of offerings beyond retail. One of the most ambitious projects we have been working on, Cedar Rapids’ Westdale Mall, is still in progress. The development is being reimagined as an urban lifestyle destination preserving the existing anchor tenants, adding small local stores, and providing an events lawn to hold community gatherings and draw in customers.
Sycamore Mall in Iowa City lost its major anchor in 2014 and struggled to hold on to the remaining tenants. Working with our client, we repositioned the building from an interior focused mall with a few major entrances into an exterior oriented, activated center. The newly renamed Iowa City Marketplace, with Lucky’s Market as its new anchor, has extended the active sales hours of the property by drawing in grocery shoppers at all hours of the day.
Des Moines’ Southridge Mall was also able to extend their hours of activity by looking beyond traditional commercial tenants to make up for the loss of their Sears anchor. We helped DMACC set up a satellite campus in the facility and now students are around the area all day, with the mall targeted to provide a great space for them to socialize.
It is an exciting time to be designing within the commercial market. Customers want to have engaging experiences while shopping and many existing centers do not offer these opportunities. By expanding existing commercial property’s offerings beyond retail and helping tenants envision themselves in new marketplaces Shive-Hattery is pushing sustainable commercial development design forward.