Las Vegas — A sea of humanity will flood the Las Vegas Convention Center beginning today as more than 32,000 retail and shopping center industry professionals assemble here to do deals in the leasing mall or attend general sessions and networking events. It's all part of RECon, the annual global retail real estate convention. Participants use this high-energy stage to plant the seeds of the next generation of dynamic retail projects.
More than 1,000 companies are exhibiting at RECon, including 100-plus retailers and nearly 100 public sector companies. The Marketplace Mall, which opened Sunday, features 300 exhibitors showcasing the latest product and services for commercial properties.
On Sunday, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) paid tribute to five winners of the VIVA Best-of-the-Best Awards for 2013. The VIVA awards recognize outstanding shopping center design and development, sustainability, marketing, and community service worldwide. (VIVA stands for vision, innovation, value and achievement.)
"These centers are an exceptional representation of the best in the industry for state-of the-art practices, setting them apart from the rest of the retail real estate industry," remarked Michael Kercheval, president and CEO of ICSC, in a prepared statement. The awards set a standard for what the retail real estate industry should expect from its owners and developers, he added.
What follows is a synopsis of the winning entries in their respective categories.
Design and Development — Santa Monica Place in Santa Monica, Calif., underwent a dramatic two-year renovation, converting a traditional enclosed mall into an open-air destination. The center features a one-of-a-kind rooftop dining deck, premier anchors Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and The Market, and an innovative assemblage of artisanal shops, kitchens, and cafes. Santa Monica Place is one of the few large-scale urban centers to earn LEED Gold certification.
Owner/development company: Macerich
Design Architect: The Jerde Partnership
Production Architect: Omniplan
Graphic Designer: 505 Design
Sustainable Design and Development — Parc 66 in Jinan, China is located on the Golden Avenue at the center of one of the Jinan's fastest growing districts. Parc 66 takes its theme from the surrounding lakes and springs, embodying a fluid design with its undulating roofs, green spaces, curved façades and water-themed interior design. The mall has been designed to use LED light to save energy, and its comprehensive recycling and recovery program treats and supplies recycled water for non-drinking purposes. The center provides a new level of luxury to the increasingly affluent community in the city.
Owner/developer/management company: Shandong Hang Lung Properties Ltd.
Architect: P&T International Inc.
Graphic Designer: Benoy
Marketing — The fragile exhibit at Montreal Eaton Centre in Montreal, Canada is a unique environmentally themed sculpture made entirely from recycled materials. The Fragile exhibit spanned all five levels of the mall's expansive atrium and was unveiled at the height of Montreal's tourist season in summer 2011. In the first week alone, mall traffic increased by 11 percent, helping to boost sales throughout the summer. "Fragile" also captured international media attention generating 21 million media impressions through print, radio, television and digital exposure.
Owner/management company: Ivanhoe Cambridge
Retail Design — Bloomingdale's in Santa Monica, Calif. is an integral part of Santa Monica Place, the conversion of an enclosed mall into an open-air fashion retail and entertainment destination. Created from the shell of a 1970s-era department store, the result changes a fortress-like building inside and out, creating a new Bloomingdale's that integrates with the shopping center, with an East-meets-West design approach evoking both SoHo and SoCal.
The original building's imposing presence was modulated to a pedestrian-friendly scale. The third floor designed for in-line retail and offices was set back with a band of windows. Monumental windows punched into the first and second floors open the free-form interior sales spaces to street view.
Retailer: Macy's Inc.
Architect: Hixson Architecture Engineering Interiors
Sustainable Retail Store Design — TD Bank's first net-zero energy branch, located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is a cornerstone of a goal to be "as green as the TD logo." Designed to produce as much energy as it consumes, the bank branch is the prototype for developing best practices for environmental efficiency. The bank was built according to TD's new green store standards, making it nearly 40 percent more efficient than the bank's previous design.
The design begins on the outside, with ground mounted solar photovoltaics, a drive-thru canopy constructed with bifacial photovoltaics, and preferred parking for electric vehicles. Inside are energy-efficient digital displays and a penny arcade that interactively teaches TD's youngest customers financial and environmental literacy.
Company: TD Bank
Still to come
Randi Zuckerberg, former head of marketing at Facebook and current founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, will provide a look at "A Day in the Life of the Modern Consumer" during her keynote presentation early Monday afternoon. She will address the impact of new or emerging social platforms and how they can influence consumer behavior. Zuckerberg will also address some new business development ideas such as gamification, crowd sourcing, and the change in video and live streaming.
Gregory Wasson, president and CEO of Walgreens, will analyze Obamacare and its impact on the drugstore industry, what Walgreens' equity interest in Alliance Boots means for the company from a global standpoint, and how the U.S. drugstore business is changing.
Alliance Boots is the largest drugstore chain in the United Kingdom. Walgreens acquired a 45 percent stake in the company last year. Wasson will make his presentation early Tuesday afternoon.
The four-day RECon conference runs through this Wednesday.
— Matt Valley