Sales 'Powering' Upward At Tustin Market Place Sales are soaring at Tustin Market Place in Orange County, Calif. Newport Beach, Calif.-based Donahue Schriber, which leases and manages the regional power center, reports that 1997 first-quarter sales rose 34 percent over sales of the same period last year.

"There is no question that these increases reflect the customers' preference for a one-stop shopping alternative," says Karol Reedy, general manager for the center. "We've greatly expanded our tenant mix to respond to the changing needs of consumers."

Tustin Market Place (including The Market Place, a recent expansion) comprises 80 tenants and 1.2 million sq. ft. of GLA. The tenant roster includes theaters, restaurants, niche and specialty retailers, as well as national chains.

Loehmann's, Sears HomeLife, Babies "R" Us, OfficeMax, Koo Koo Roo and Circuit City are among the most recent tenants to report strong sales. Cosmetics Plus and Anaheim Patio and Fireside are scheduled to open within coming months, and a 10-screen Edwards Cinema complex is planned for spring 1998.

According to Donahue Schriber, second-quarter sales projections also call for an increase over 1996 numbers. Reedy predicts that the second half of the year will be equally positive.

"Based on our continued increases, we expect our sales volume for 1997 to exceed $250 per sq. ft. -- the highest in Orange County for a center of this type," she says. Tustin Market Place is owned by Irvine Retail Properties Co., a division of The Irvine Co., Irvine, Calif.

New Name For New America New America Network, a Hightstown, N.J.-based global partnership of more than 150 real estate service providers, has changed its name to New America International (NAI), effective this month. The name change, according to president and chief operating officer Jeff Finn, is intended to demonstrate how the company's command of commercial real estate opportunities are increasingly international in scope.

In Latin America, the company has a presence in Mexico, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, with Lima, Caracas and Santiago offices planned for later this year. Further, the company has expanded its reach into the Pacific Rim, and has added affiliated European offices in Germany, the Czech Republic, The Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom.

Finn emphasizes that, in the global age, companies must have capability in all markets, international or otherwise, to remain on a competitive track. "To properly represent a company's interests, you clearly have to be [in more than just the] major business centers around the world. [You have to be] in the resort and secondary markets as well," he says, adding that international investing is a two-way street.

"There are a wide array of international investors that need better access into the United States," he says. "Through our affiliates, we can provide easy and controlled business opportunities from both directions."

Public-Private Partners Open Skills Center A pilot project to offer one-stop employment services to retailers was enacted recently by National Retail Federation (NRF), Washington, D.C.; American Express Travel Related Serv-ices Co. Inc., New York; Kravco Co., King of Prussia, Pa.; and the State of Pennsylvania. Located at The Plaza and The Court at King of Prussia (owned by Kravco), the Retail Skills Center assists retailers in employee recruitment, training and placement.

The retail industry has undergone profound changes in recent years, notes Tracy McMullin, NRF president. "The need for highly skilled workers in our industry has never been greater," he explains. "This partnership helps bring together the resources and technology needed to create a strong, competitive workforce."

The impetus for the skills center was the recent expansion of The Court at King of Prussia (the mall has more than 400 stores), which has increased the demand for skilled retail sales associates. In addition to unemployed workers or adults in transition, the skills center is open to high school and community college students who are entering the job market. It also is open to The Court's current sales associates who want to improve their skills and retail career options.

According to NRF, the Retail Skills Center will be linked initially with community-based organizations, job training and placement agencies, as well as area schools and colleges. It will combine self-paced, computerized instruction with workshops to provide skills in customer service, selling and promoting products, monitoring inventory, maintaining store appearance, protecting company assets, and teamwork. Job placement, mentoring and career guidance also are part of the program.

The center's skill standards were set by NRF using guidelines provided by the National Skills Standards Board. Leading retailers such as Sears Roebuck & Co., Federated Department Stores, JCPenney, Crate & Barrel, Circuit City and Nordstrom also contributed to the standards process.

Non-profit training vendors TRAC/ USA, Alexandria, Va., and Public/Private Ventures, Philadelphia, developed materials for training and assessment, as did Minneapolis-based NCS/London House.

Staffing and operating expenses for the center are being paid with a three-year grant from American Express. By 2000, King of Prussia's Retail Skills Center will be self-sufficient, NRF predicts. The federation anticipates ongoing support from labor and employment organizations, and local educational institutions. Additionally, it expects to institute a fee schedule for employed program participants.

Expectations are high for the new center. "Time and time again, we've heard from employers that they can't find workers with the skills to succeed," said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge in a statement regarding the skills center. "This unique partnership helps to ensure that this is not the case in King of Prussia. And for those desiring the skills to go to work, this program lends that helping hand."

NRF reports that it will roll out the Retail Skills Center concept in additional shopping center and retail locations. Two sites are planned for the near future, but locations remain undisclosed.

Prime Retail Survey Spots Student Fashion Trends The back-to-school shopping frenzy, an often painful annual ritual for budget-conscious parents and fashion-conscious children, is a happy event for apparel, shoes and jewelry/accessories retailers who enjoy the boost in sales. Baltimore-based Prime Retail L.P. recently surveyed hundreds of merchants operating within their 24-outlet center portfolio to determine the most popular fashions among elementary, junior/senior high and college students this year. The following table summarizes their findings for "must have" student apparel.

Elementary boxer shorts; bike shorts; khaki shorts/skirts; jeans; denim dresses; fleece jackets/vests; anything Disney.

Jr./Sr. High lime green jackets/skirts/T's; zipper polos; denim shorts/skirts; jeans; carpenter shorts/jeans; tank tops; Henleys; fleece jackets; bib overalls/shortalls; tartan plaid skirts/jumpers; wide-leg jeans; baggy shorts; rayon dresses/skirts; team sports jersey; cropped jackets.

College zipper polos; zipper jackets; long dresses; khaki shorts/pants; jeans; Henleys; wool pants/blazers; carpenter jeans; bib overalls/shortalls; fleece sweaters; wide-leg jeans; baggy shorts; rayon dresses/skirts; steam sports jerseys.

Californians Get A Charge Out Of Shopping While electric vehicles (EVs) may not yet be a freeway mainstay, there are a number of retail outlets that are giving their owners a place to plug in.

At Century City Shopping Center & Marketplace in Los Angeles, EV drivers can recharge their vehicles on one of two charging stations. The stations are located on the first level of the center's parking structure, and they are available free of charge.

"We're excited about [supporting] electric transportation by providing a place for EV drivers to charge their vehicles," says Douglas Roscoe, vice president and general manager of the center. "Currently about 35 percent of all EVs on U.S. roads are owned by residents in our neighborhood.

"We felt that installing these stations would make it easier for our customers and employees to promote clean air and help to improve our environment," he adds.

The two charging stations were partially funded by a General Motors program, along with Century City Shopping Center and its owner, The RREEF Funds, San Francisco. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power coordinated the installation of the stations.

In addition to Century City, Issa-quah, Wash.-based Costco Co. Inc., has installed its first public EV charger at its Westlake Village, Calif., store. The retailer plans to add EV charging stations to most of its stores in California and Arizona, and in other stores as they become EV-ready.

"EVs are good for the environment, and now EV drivers will know where to go when they need a charge," says Jim Sinegal, chairman and chief executive officer of Costco. "It takes the guesswork out of finding a place to shop, and it's an opportunity for [drivers] to shop while they're here as well."

According to Washington, D.C.-based Edison Electric Institute (its members comprise approximately 80 percent of the nation's electric companies), other retailers have boarded the EV bandwagon. Compton, Calif.-based Ralph's Supermarkets reportedly has planned to add charging stations to its stores, and Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart already has a charging station installed at its City ofIndustry, Calif., location.

Neighborhood Centers Are Top Performers Neighborhood shopping centers are outperforming community centers, as well as regional and superregional malls, according to Dollars and Cents of Shopping Centers 1997.

The report from Urban Land Institute (ULI), Washington, D.C., ranks shopping center performance based upon operations receipts and expenses.

According to the report, neighborhood shopping centers have the highest sales per square foot ($216) among the four major shopping center types. Additionally, they are exhibiting the greatest bottom-line increase, with net operating balances up 16 percent since 1994.

"This rise reflects the consumer's ever-increasing need for convenience," says Michael Beyard, vice president of strategic development for ULI. "It may also reveal a new reluctance for making trips to the larger regional mall."

As the previous center star, community centers show a 10 percent increase in net operating balances since 1994. However, ULI reports, flat sales and revenues could be an indication that power centers may be overbuilt in some areas.

Superregional malls are holding steady. Net operating balances are up nearly 5 percent in the last two years, reflecting cost-cutting efforts and increased rents.

Outflanked by all of its shopping center brethren, the regional mall is performing "dismally," according to ULI. Operating receipts were down 18 percent from 1994 to 1996, while net operating balances were down a more modest 7.2 percent.

Copies of the complete report may be obtained by contacting ULI at (800) 321-5011.