By Barbra Murray
Simon Property Group has big plans for its top shopping centers; $4 billion plans. The retail and mixed-use real estate developer has commenced a multibillion-dollar program to transform some of its most notable shopping centers into experiential-centric destinations.
“We’re a company of experiences and therefore perfectly positioned to capture the hearts, minds and imaginations of our shoppers with new, exciting and dynamic ways to live, work, play, stay and shop at Simon,” David Simon, chairman & CEO of Simon Property Group, said in a prepared statement.
Among Simon’s sizeable roster of transformational projects is suburban Philadelphia’s popular King of Prussia, where the company will develop a residential component, hotel and Class A office tower to complement the center’s 3 million square feet of shopping space. Simon holds up King of Prussia as experiential transformation at its best.
Phipps Plaza in Atlanta is also undergoing an experiential upgrade, with the redevelopment of vacated department stores paving the way for the addition of a boutique hotel, a LifeTime wellness center and a Class A office building. The property will also benefit from Simon’s Savor platform, which will put elevated, new-to-market dining concepts in place to accommodate the public’s changing taste buds and establish Simon centers as locales known as premier dining destinations. In Sunrise, Fla., Sawgrass Mill will offer the 14-restaurant Oasis, as well as additional retail square footage, and a new hotel.
However, not all of Simon’s transformational projects involve actual transformation. In suburban Denver, Simon is building an experience-centered property from the ground up with the development of the 328,000-square-foot Denver Premium Outlets, a high-design offering in Thornton, Colo. The open-air center, which will feature such amenities as an elegant outdoor village and views of the Rocky Mountains, is designed to attract visitors who prefer the outdoor lifestyle. Simon expects to open the doors of the $120.6 million Denver Premium Outlets in September 2018.
The right moves at the right time
Statistics indicate that Simon’s focus on experiential retail is the wave of the future for shopping malls. In its 2018 outlook report, consumer analytics firm Buxton quotes a retail industry expert’s assertion that the formula for success in retail development today is 70 percent food, entertainment and lifestyle experiences, and 30 percent retail. Despite the hefty price tag, Simon’s experiential enhancements program is a wise move, some analysts believe.
“They’ve already been doing it; they have proven to be very successful at redeveloping their assets and making those assets more attractive to changing customer needs,” Alexander Goldfarb, managing director with investment banking firm Sandler O’Neill & Partners, told Commercial Property Executive. “Whether it’s the project they’re doing at King of Prussia or Sawgrass, these are amazing assets so they’re taking top assets and making them that much better.”
Image courtesy of Simon Property Group