"Perhaps we should call them 'alls,' not 'malls,'" suggested Michael McCarty, president of the community centers division of Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group. With the overwhelming trend toward hybridization of shopping centers, he said, "mall" is an anachronism. Simon and partner Lauth Property Group included big boxes such as Circuit City and Wild Oats as part of the Clay Terrace lifestyle center which opened in Indianapolis last fall.

Cold Stone Creamery, which saw sales grow from $88 million in 2002 to $285 million last year, is close to signing an agreement with an unnamed partner for its first international store-in Japan. A chain of stores will follow, along with administrative and production operations. Cold Stone has 930 U.S. stores and 1,000 franchise agreements in development.

Bos Group has run up against General Growth Properties as a competitor for retailers in Rogers, Ark., near Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville. "It's brutal," says Mark Lichtman, who founded Bos three years ago with former Mills Corp. colleague Philip Kroskin. Pleasant Crossings, at which construction is well under way, already has agreements for a 109,000-square-foot Wal-Mart, a Bed Bath & Beyond, and an off-mall prototype of Saks Inc.'s Parisian department store, among others. General Growth and The Pinnacle Group plan to build The Pinnacle Hills Promenade, a 980,000-square-foot regional shopping center, 2.5 miles away. Groundbreaking will take place this month.

"Every type of traditional center is obsolete," said Terry Brown, CEO of Edens & Avant. The traditional grocery-anchored centers are finding new mainstays, including Target, Whole Foods and Bed Bath & Beyond. Mostly, he said, the Columbia, S.C., chain is concentrating on renovating and retenanting existing centers and building new stores rather than expanding through acquisitions as it has in the past. That doesn't mean, however, that it would rule out further purchases if the terms were right: "If, say, a portfolio of 20 properties in Chicago came up and it fit our strategy, we might buy it."

--Beth Karlin