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Upcycling: Reimagining Underutilized Commercial Space as Public Space

Originally published by Philip Wilkinson and Teresa Bucco for NAIOP Development Magazine Summer 2021 issue.

A project in Pittsburgh demonstrates the potential of activating common areas in older retail destinations.

For nearly two decades, online shopping has seen steady growth in both traffic and sales, which has forced traditional retailers to think of new ways to draw people into brick-and-mortar stores. In more recent years, shifts toward experiential retail saw many retailers overhauling store designs to give shoppers more hyperlocal, boutique or high-end encounters while encouraging online buying and in-store pickup. 

However, concepts such as Wal-Mart’s Neighborhood Market and Target’s City Target — launched to reach transit-oriented communities and supplement declining sales at traditional big-box locations — were often slow to catch on or showed mixed results, according to a 2019 Mashed article.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the decline of in-person buying. Digital Commerce 360 reports that total online spending in 2020 reached $861 billion, up 44% from 2019, accounting for 21.3% of total retail sales. Adobe’s Digital Economy Index shows that 2020 accelerated the typical year-over-year growth of e-commerce by four to six years. Conversely, sales from brick-and-mortar retailers fell an estimated 14%  to just $4.2 trillion in 2020, according to a June 2020 Insider Intelligence study. Due to the rise of e-commerce and the economic effects of the pandemic, it’s clear that commercial centers must evolve to become more than just shopping destinations.

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Mixed-Use at the Core of Mall Reinvention

Originally published on June 15, 2021, by Katie Sloan for Rebusiness Online.

When it comes to mall redevelopment, one of the biggest hurdles is changing the business community’s perception that enclosed malls are only for retail use, says Sean Garrett, president of acquisitions and director of community relations for East Peoria, Illinois-based Cullinan Properties Ltd. 

“There is no reason an insurance office can’t be right next to a retailer and a neighbor of a dentist,” states Garrett. “Downtowns and Main Streets have been developed this way for generations.” 

Cullinan recently followed this approach when it rebranded its Quincy Mall in Quincy, Illinois, to Quincy Town Center. One of the anchor tenants is now Quincy Medical Group, which backfilled a former Bergner’s department store. For Garrett, merging retail and medical uses today is a “natural fit.”

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Lessons in Mitigating Risk on a Megaproject

Originally published in NAIOP's Development Magazine Spring 2021 Issue by Ann Moore.

Waterfront development in California used multiple strategies to get off the ground.

Megaprojects can transform landscapes, improve quality of life and deliver significant economic benefits to their communities. When they are sited on a waterfront in a binational urban area, they take on even more complexity. In Southern California’s San Diego County, a megaproject will transform a formerly blighted stretch of waterfront into a thriving destination. The project team is pursuing innovative ways to reduce the risk that could be instructive to other development teams. 

A megaproject is defined by its scale and complexity. Typically costing $1 billion or more, such projects take many years to develop and build, involve multiple public and private stakeholders and impact millions of people, according to the Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management. A considerable upside also brings great risk, which must be managed to improve the chances of success. 

On approximately 535 acres, the Chula Vista Bayfront is larger than Disneyland and one of the last significant large-scale waterfront development opportunities in Southern California. Once defined by a power plant and an aerospace factory, this brownfield waterfront is ripe for redevelopment in the U.S.-Mexico border region of 6.5 million people. The location is about a 15-minute drive from the busiest land border crossing in the western hemisphere. More than 100,000 people cross the San Diego-Tijuana, Mexico, border every day. Thus, the project site can target a market that includes U.S. citizens, Mexican nationals, and travelers using airports in San Diego and Tijuana. 

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That Vacated Sears Store May Reopen as a Public School

Originally published on May 4, 2021, by Esther Fung for The Wall Street  Journal.

Mall owners have hit on a new way to fill gaping holes left by failed department stores and other departing big-box tenants: hosting public schools in need of more space.

Landlords are focused in particular on the nation’s 7,500 charter schools, which are public-funded institutions run independently of school districts. These schools usually have to find and finance their own buildings.

In cramped cities and other places where land is scarce, charter schools and mall owners are finding common ground. Dozens of charter and other public schools have leased space in shopping centers, public records show.

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Digital Tools Increasingly Vital to Success of Construction Projects

Originally published on April 26, 2021 by Linda Strowbridge for NAIOP E-Newsletter.

Despite its traditional roots, construction has started to transform into a digital industry. Building information modeling, geospatial technologies, prefabrication and modular construction, drone services, augmented-reality wearables and other technologies are increasingly becoming a larger and more crucial part of successful, efficient, profitable construction projects.

“An Overview of Emerging Construction Technologies,” a NAIOP Research Foundation report, details the recent advances and new horizons in construction technology. Authors Andrew McCoy, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Building Construction at Virginia Tech, and Armin Yeganeh, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Virginia Tech, talked to NAIOP about what these technology advances mean for construction firms and commercial real estate companies.

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How Custom Workplace Design can Improve Employee Health and Wellness

Originally published on April 13, 2021, by Roger Heerema and Dan Elkins for NAIOP.

Effective workplace design has never been about simply making an office look nice; it’s about supporting and inspiring those who will move within and around it. Now, a historic pandemic is highlighting a new opportunity for flourishing companies whose space needs have changed: To invest in build- or redevelop-to-suit design projects that enable them to manage the health and wellness aspects of their space – during a time when both are paramount.

The ability to choose building specifications inherently gives companies greater control over features like advanced air circulation and touchless doors. By investing in these and other health and wellness elements, companies can help meet long-term disease containment goals as well as show they value their employees.

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Measuring the Impact of Smart Building Technology Investments

Originally published by Marta Soncodi for NAIOP's Spring 2021 Issue.

A new ratings system quantifies how effective they are across several important criteria. 

Investing in smart building technology may not be seen as a priority after commercial real estate investments were hit especially hard in 2020. However, if improving tenant experience was being considered before the pandemic, it’s now an imperative.

Why should commercial real estate owners consider investing in smart building technology upgrades? Based on research and industry analysis, fully integrated smart systems can increase building efficiency, optimize facility operations, improve occupant safety, security and wellbeing, and enhance end-user preferences. And, in light of the pandemic, stakeholders — commercial real estate companies, building owners, managers, and tenants — should examine the competitive advantages of smart building technology. 

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A New Life for an Old Department Store

Originally published by Brent Carroll for NAIOP's Spring 2021 Issue.

An adaptive reuse project revitalizes an iconic retail tower in Portland, Oregon.

For residents of a certain age in Portland, Oregon, the phrase “meet me under the clock” meant the clock on the main floor of the Meier & Frank department store, which first opened nearly 150 years ago. The 16-story terracotta landmark building at 555 Southwest Morrison Street encompasses an entire city block near Pioneer Courthouse Square, widely known as “Portland’s living room.”

In November 2016, a new era for the Meier & Frank Building began when KBS purchased the asset for $54 million in a joint venture with private development firm Sterling Bay with the intent of repositioning the property. Converting part of a beloved former department store into a fully leased Class A mixed-use space while preserving the historical integrity of the original property required hard work as well as some creative problem-solving. 

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A New Asset Class: The Future Hybrid Store

Originally published on April 9, 2021 by Brielle Scott for NAIOP Blog.

The disruption caused by COVID-19 has accelerated the blending of brick-and-mortar retail and logistics real estate. This has resulted in the emergence of a new hybrid store model – one that takes omnichannel strategies to the next level and promises to revolutionize the retail, industrial and logistics industries. 

In a recent NAIOP webinar, John Morris, head of industrial and retail, CBRE, and Andres Rodriquez, senior research analyst, CBRE, shared their vision for a hybrid store that preserves the store experience for physical shopping while leveraging logistics capabilities for the fulfillment of online sales. 

Rodriquez started the discussion by sharing some historical data. According to data between 2010-2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, online retail sales were growing about 16% per year, while in-store retail sales were growing about 3% per year. In response to that, retailers had been focusing heavily on rolling out their online platforms to meet consumer demand. 

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How Has COVID-19 Accelerated Dining Trends?

Originally published by Gary Tasman on March 30, 2021, for NAIOP.com.

If nothing else, 2020 taught us that we can all adapt to changing conditions and learn how to navigate through radical shifts in how we function day-to-day. This is the case not only for individuals and families but also for businesses. Millions of business owners and managers were forced to radically reinvent their business models to remain solvent during the COVID-19 crisis. This is especially true of the restaurant industry, which is rapidly accelerating new and pre-existing trends.

Stay-at-home regulations, social distancing, and public apprehension have forced restaurants to shift their models significantly to focus on delivery and carry-out to stay profitable. Fortunately for many establishments, this quick-service restaurant trend had already emerged pre-pandemic. Restaurants that had already embraced this shift were better positioned to weather the storm produced by COVID-19.

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Apply for NAIOP’s National Forums Program

The National Forums program brings together industry professionals in select groups to share industry knowledge, develop successful business strategies and build strong relationships in a confidential and non-competitive setting. Learn more about this unique opportunity and apply for appointment today. 

The Forums provide a unique opportunity for members to openly discuss project challenges, business opportunities and lessons-learned in a confidential and non-competitive setting. Over time, fellow members become a trusted circle of advisors.

The National Forums are an excellent way to become involved, stay in touch and develop new connections with key industry leaders.

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10 Renovations to Consider Before Reopening the Office

Originally published on June 3, 2020 by Clay Edwards

As offices are set to reopen across the country over the next few months, many companies are considering all their options to make the workplace as safe and healthy as possible for returning employees. Companies will need to do more than put hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere and rearrange desks to put employees’ minds at ease.

Regardless of whether your company is heading back into the office ASAP or still managing a remote workforce, there’s still time to make updates with no or little disruption. At Skender, we’re actively collaborating with our clients to modify density and employee circulation to meet social distancing guidelines, and we’re seeing installations and renovations of all sizes. Here are 10 office updates that we’re recommending to support a healthy return to work...

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Activating Public Spaces Can Attract Users, Create Community

Posted on July 26, 2019

By Angelo Carusi

A Nashville-area mixed-use development illustrates the uplifting potential of landscape architecture.

Mixed-use developers are devoting premium real estate to outdoor public spaces that invite the community to linger. These communal areas are continually being repurposed and reimagined through bold and creative design strategies.

The design for dynamic, open-air gathering spaces can be as important as the design for revenue-generating real estate products. Physical spaces that promote dwell time are increasingly appreciated by tenants and end users. Outdoor “rooms” where people pause to sit with a cup of coffee, watch their children play, respond to emails and texts or enjoy casual conversations are spaces where life, community, architecture and nature come together, allowing for meaningful experiences that encourage people to return to the property.

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The Workplace Makeover: From Office to Destination

Posted July 8, 2019

By Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen

To lure top talent, employers must integrate technology and unique experiences into their spaces.

The future of cities is predicated on people. As engines of economic growth, urban areas are the life source of the built environment, with 80 percent of global GDP resulting from their output. The most vibrant cities are those that attract diverse talent with varied skills, perspectives and backgrounds. All of this is driving change and transformation in how people live, work and play.

Looking at the built environment, there is no place that is being more profoundly impacted than the workplace. To retain and inspire the best talent, the most successful organizations will be the ones that adapt their workplace strategies to focus on creating a destination with visceral experiences, an “always in beta approach” and purpose through space.

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Designing Spaces to Create Great Experiences

Posted on December 12, 2018

By Andy Cohen

A Gensler study quantifies that the right design can result in great experiences, which in turn are great for business.

Today, the goal of every project that forward-thinking architects design is to give people positive experiences. Clients in every sector, including commercial real estate, are struggling to keep up with the dramatidec evolution of how people work, live and shop today – and those who aren’t are sacrificing business performance. To better understand – and to quantify – the link between design and delivery of a great experience, Gensler developed the Gensler Experience Index, a first-of-its-kind mixed-methods research approach to create a holistic Experience Framework for understanding experience and quantifying the effect of design on that experience.

The Gensler Experience Index is the result of a rigorous investigation that combined qualitative ethnographic research with quantitative research to identify the design factors that are most important in creating exceptionally great spaces and places. After several years, five roundtables, 60+ hours of one-on-one ethnographic observations and a survey of more than 4,000 consumers, the Gensler Experience Index  quantifies and brings greater depth to what many in the design industry already knew instinctively – that great design is an important component of great experiences.

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Elevating Workplace Architecture and Design

Posted on June 7, 2018

By Marie Ruff

Office architecture and design have incorporated various popular influences in recent years: smart office tools, the open-ceiling industrial-chic aesthetic, and the “experiential office” trend, to name a few. The field has been slower, however, to adopt findings from positive psychology into office form and function.

Positive psychology, the scientific study of the condition and strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive, provides tools that can be used to enhance worker’s well-being, said architect Charles First, AIA, CCM, CFM. In his recently published book, “A Place to be Happy: Linking Architecture & Positive Psychology,” First drew from his more than 30 years as a registered architect with experience in architecture, project management and owner-side office culture.  The book incorporates results from his own workplace studies, and along with findings from researchers across the U.S., establishes criteria for shaping spaces for the benefit of the people who work there.

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Best Practices in Developing Skilled Nursing Facilities

Posted on April 16, 2018

By: Greg Lazaroff

Photos courtesy of Michael Adkins, PHCM Construction Inc.An Ohio-based developer of these specialized properties describes how it is capitalizing on growing opportunities as well as evolving market trends.

AN AGING POPULATION and medical advances that are extending the average person’s life expectancy are increasing the need for skilled nursing facilities. Developers are responding by gearing up to build more of these projects to meet the expected need. One such company, Premier Health Care Management, a Cincinnati-based nursing home developer and operator, plans to double in size in the next three years by expanding its total number of beds from 700 to 1,200 through building renovation, expansion and ground-up construction.

Premier’s in-house architectural team, PHCM Construction Inc., is currently working on five nursing home development projects with a combined construction value near $100 million. All are geared toward capitalizing on market trends that include residents’ desire for private rooms and more amenities. These trends, along with variables such as site conditions, occupancy codes and availability of financing, are among the primary challenges faced by most senior living development projects.

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Does Your Modern Build-out Have a Hearing Problem?

Posted on April 13, 2018

By: Clay Edwards

Open ceilings, exposed concrete floors and glass-walled spaces are the hallmarks of contemporary interiors. These design choices convey a hip and modern mindset for the companies and retailers that inhabit them, but they can come with a drawback that impacts business: noise.

Without the sound-dampening effects of the acoustical tiles used in drop ceilings and wall-to-wall carpeting and other soft surfaces, ambient noises such as conversations, whirring heating and cooling systems, and shifting furniture are amplified. And plans to mitigate this heightened noise can add extra materials, labor costs and time to your build-out.

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The Rise of Smart Buildings As-a-Service

Posted on February 28, 2018

A recent Memoori report, Occupancy Analytics & In-Building Location Based Services 2017 to 2022, finds “value-added services such as space utilization, indoor positioning, connected lighting and asset tracking are helping to drive the adoption of As-a-Service business models.”

Smart Building As-a-Service refers to third-party companies working with building owners to deploy technology to maximize efficiency and use data-driven analytics to understand better how people operate within the building. For example, if building owners and managers subscribed to a sensing-as-a-service firm, the firm would be responsible for not only installing the equipment but also managing, analyzing and reporting the data the sensors collect.

Artful Landscape Design for Stormwater Management

Posted on February 23, 2018

By: Brian L. Reetz, and Emilie C. Carter, PLA, ASLA

Jennifer Hughes PhotographyTHE METROPOLITAN Downtown Columbia, one element in the master plan for Downtown Columbia, Maryland, is the first new mixed-use, multifamily project to be developed in the area, which eventually will incorporate a vibrant, walkable downtown that will complement what was formerly an inward-focused mall. Developed by Kettler, the six-story, 375-unit apartment building features ground-floor retail space that faces a 0.82-acre promenade.

While the primary goal for the landscape architects designing this promenade was to create an appealing open space, they faced several additional requirements and challenges, including the need to integrate a public art component, fulfill county requirements for a playground area and comply with state stormwater regulations. The design for the promenade, which was completed in summer 2015, incorporated an integrated micro-bioretention system, educational and interpretive signage, and abstract play sculptures. The result is an iconic open space lined by shops and restaurants that connects Downtown Columbia, the mall and the surrounding community. The roughly $1 million promenade also offers some valuable lessons for landscape architects and developers.

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