The Edited Specialty Center: On The Edge Of A Major Trend

The "edited" specialty center -- the next wave in specialty center development -- is neither a regional mall nor a neighborhood strip center. Instead, it offers new opportunities for retailers by relying on four critical factors location, demographics, market dynamics and enclosed mall competition.

These new centers are dependent on recently expanded road systems that accommodate new directions of population and commercial development growth. The tenant mix anticipates and serves the tastes and desires of consumers with healthy household incomes.

Also, the edited specialty center welcomes rather than shuns the competition of an existing enclosed mall, seeing this as an opportunity to offer the marketplace something unique.

That is the case at The Summit, which is being developed and managed by Bayer Properties in its hometown of Birmingham, Ala. The initial 490,000 sq. ft. phase of the interactive, open-air center is scheduled to open Oct. 22 with a tenant mix and a positioning that Jeffrey Bayer, president of Bayer Properties, says is a "virtual case study" of the edited center concept.

"We looked at the location, did our homework and found that our site represented an untapped retail opportunity in Birmingham, which ranks in the top 21 percent of the 320 U.S. metro markets in terms of measured annual apparel sales, restaurant sales and total retail sales -- some $8.6 billion," Bayer says.

The company researched the market and found "there was great potential, especially in the high-growth area where the site is located, for a new concept shopping center -- one that could be edited to fit the situation," Bayer continues.

A new-look, 115,000 sq. ft. flagship Parisian store, the 40th location for the Birmingham, Ala.-based fashion department store, anchors The Summit. Two new faces to the area, Williams-Sonoma and Zany Brainy, join Abercrombie & Fitch, Barnes & Noble, Talbots, Talbots Petites, Bath & Body Works Home Store, Limited Express, Chico's, Harold's, Victoria's Secret and other tenants.

The Gap is locating all four of its concepts: The Gap, Gap Kids, Banana Republic and Old Navy Clothing Co. A 35,000 sq. ft. Bed Bath & Beyond extends the price point offerings of The Summit.

The center also will contain a new prototype of Bruno's Gourmet Market, which "underscores the new lifestyle orientation of the center," Bayer says. "The Summit is as much about the way people live as it is about demographics and location. The new Bruno's will be built around busy schedules and highly developed tastes with wonderful take-out foods and a great selection of truly unique offerings of gourmet and grocery items," he says.

The center's merchandise mix is rounded out with a 16-screen, all-stadium seating Carmike Cinema and a grouping of restaurants to provide entertainment, food and dining options.

Bayer is collaborating with Crawford McWilliams Hatcher Architects, also of Birmingham, to create a shopper-friendly and architecturally unique environment. Because of the center's location on a bluff, the designers selected the Old World look, taking inspiration from Mediterranean hill villages. The center, therefore, is punctuated by broad walking avenues, lush landscaping, colorful seasonal flowers, inviting seating areas and statuary and fountains reminiscent of those in old European city squares.

The center also has a convenience-oriented layout with a "main-street" design that allows shoppers to drive up, shop and dine at a single location or spend time strolling and browsing through the specialty stores and shops.

When complete, the mixed-use development will contain additional retail areas, 700 residential units, an office building and a full-service hotel.

Brice Building Co., Birmingham, is serving as general contractor; Walter Schoel Engineering Co., Birmingham, has furnished civil engineering services; Morris & Fellows Inc., Atlanta, has provided real estate consulting, leasing and marketing services; and SouthTrust Bank, Birmingham, is providing construction financing for the project.

Leasing Contact: Ann Taradash, Morris & Fellows Inc., One Paces West, 2727 Paces Ferry Road, Suite 200, Atlanta, Ga. 30339; (770) 433-3210; fax: (770) 433-2860.

Horizon's New Mountain Home Opens

Named for its location at the gateway to the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts, Berkshire Outlet Village in Lee, Mass., opened in late June -- one of only a handful of new outlet centers opening this year in the United States. The week-long grand opening celebration, held June 27 to July 6, attracted more than 4,000 visitors.

Berkshire Outlet Village

Berkshire Outlet Village, which is owned and managed by Horizon Group Inc., Norton Shores, Mich., serves a 3.5 million population base located within 70 miles of the center, as well as the more than 2 million tourists who visit the area annually. Among the tourist attractions are the Norman Rockwell Museum, Tanglewood (the summer home of the Boston Symphony), numerous theater, ballet and opera houses, year-round outdoor recreation, Canyon Ranch Resort, and many historic colonial attractions.

"Berkshire Outlet Village is a great asset to Berkshire tourism. It will help us establish ourselves as a retail destination as well as a cultural and recreational one," says Bill Wilson, executive director of the Berkshire Visitor's Bureau. This is Horizon's first development in Massachusetts.

Berkshire Outlet Village is architecturally styled as a New England village with porticos, colorful awnings and a widow's walk. The selection of 55 outlet stores (45 of which currently are open) are spread out over approximately 223,000 sq. ft. of GLA and includes outlet retailers such as Anne Klein, Big Dog, Corning Revere, Dockers, Etienne Aigner, Guess?, harve benard, Johnston & Murphy, Levi's, London Fog, Perry Ellis, Reebok and Tommy Hilfiger.

Leasing Contact: Gary Duncan, vice president of leasing, Horizon Group Inc., 8400 Westbrook Drive, Suite 500, McLean, Va. 22102; (703) 556-6444, ext. 109.