By: Jill Krupp de Uribe, Neoscape
Across the nation, the retail market is being driven by tenants demanding Class A space, which is in short supply almost everywhere, while the growth of e-commerce, especially in apparel, consumer electronics and office supplies, is slowing construction of brick-and-mortar stores. And yet mixed-use real estate developments have never been more popular because of the proven success that can arise out of combining housing, retail and office space.
For national developers, it may be tempting to take a cookie-cutter approach when it comes to building mixed-use in various markets across the country. But, as with politics, it’s all local. There are, however, ways to maximize success. Here are three items that should always be evaluated.
- Find the need: This may seem obvious, but sometimes lasting perceptions of a particular city or region can die hard, making it easy to overlook opportunities. For example, according to Cassidy Turley’s State of Commercial Real Estate Development Across the U.S. Fall 2014, Baltimore’s population is steadily increasing for the first time in 60 years.
- Tailor the amenities: Tastes can vary by zip code. In New York City, developers are going to extremes to find ways to differentiate their projects, especially when it comes to residential mixed-use, from wine cellars and indoor play spaces for kids, to rock climbing walls. In Boston, playing up a commercial building’s location, especially in an emerging district (such as the Seaport), can be considered a unique amenity. For example, the new and highly anticipated Assembly Square mixed-use development in Somerville just got its own MBTA station on the Orange Line. Athletic company New Balance is building a new headquarters called Boston Landing, a mixed-use development that will include its own commuter rail stop.
- Make the marketing shine: The amount of saturation in cities like New York means developers need to leverage more marketing strategies than they do in Boston or Orlando or smaller markets. Marketing materials that help you stand out include: a strong brand identity, website, apps, films, print collateral, advertising, and even a marketing center. Especially for busy executives and tech-savvy young professionals, an iPad app can be the most effective way to show the layout of the future development. It’s all about having a comprehensive and cohesive campaign, giving people various touch points to interact with the story before the shovel even goes into the ground to build the development. Evaluate how it would be best to get peoples’ attention in your new city.
While following national trends in commercial real estate is essential, what works in one city doesn’t always work in another.
Jill Krupp de Uribe is creative director at Neoscape.