Lori Bongiorno

by Lori Bongiorno

Principal, Director - Commercial Studio

Retail Real Estate: ICSC RECon Top Takeaways

  • JUNE 05, 2017
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A few weeks ago, I attended ICSC's annual RECon convention in Las Vegas. Being the world's largest retail real estate convention, the overarching theme was very apparent: retail stores are not dead. However, retail real estate needs to change and adapt to better fit consumer expectations. A lot of conversation centered around providing a mix of uses for consumers. By looking at a development's location and demographics, you can establish a niche and develop a community hub where consumers do more than just shop. 

While mixed use developments have been around for decades, RECon was buzzing with fresh ideas for retail real estate. Here are a few examples of how traditional retail environments can transition into thriving centers:

Integrate Multifamily Housing

Located near Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Virginia is transient in nature, so housing is in high demand. Recognizing the need for housing and losing a major anchor tenant (Macy's), Peninsula Town Center decided to integrate more multifamily housing into the town center. To do this, M+A deconstructed the old department store and is transitioning it into a 126 key hotel and 169 apartments.

If you're interested in a more in-depth view of integrating multifamily into mixed use developments, check out my recent article published in Midwest Real Estate News titled, "(Multi)family matters: Navigating the intricacies of incorporating multifamily into mixed-use developments."

Foster a Healthy Lifestyle

Tavistock and Steiner's newest development, Lake Nona Town Center, was a huge hit at RECon this year with the full model being displayed for visitors (pictured above). At the heart of Lake Nona—right in the center of a concentrated mix of retail and entertainment venues—we're planning a comprehensive wellness hub. Literally located in the center of the development, this wellness hub helps consumers consolidate various aspects of their lives. For Lake Nona visitors, doctors’ appointments, trips to the gym, and shopping can all be done in one trip. 

Also, if you're curious to see more of this project, check out this animated fly-through video that was released just in time for the RECon convention.

Highlight the Outdoors

By converting enclosed malls into a community park with ample green space, you can provide an amenity space that's often lacking in suburban environments. Bayshore Town Center is a great example, as it was once enclosed. By providing a community park, Bayshore attracts an active demographic.

Make Healthcare an Anchor

Healthcare facilities make great anchor tenants. As the healthcare industry transitions to be more consumer-oriented, mixed use developments have become great locations for many specialties—urgent care, primary care, dental practices, plastic surgery, and more. The Heights at Worthington Place (pictured above) is a great example of how mixed use developments can attract healthcare facilities, as M+A just designed a primary care suite for this development. Also, located right down the street, the Shops at Worthington Place recently added plastic surgeon and a dental office to its list of tenants. However, with these projects care must be taken during the design process to assure that the mixed development is equipped to handle the medical equipment that's needed in these facilities.

Bring Hospitality into Healthcare

The design of the Mount Carmel Heart and Vascular Center heightens the patient experience by bringing hospitality into the healthcare environment. With services consolidated into the facility, patients can visit multiple doctors on one trip. Also, the reception and waiting areas provide choice; patients can choose to sit and watch tv or go to a quieter area to read while they wait to be seen by their doctor.

Offer Work/Play Options for Waiting Areas

Another interesting idea posed at RECon was converting car dealerships into mixed use hubs. Scheduling auto repairs and maintenance can be an inconvenience. Either you have to give up time on the weekend waiting around or you have to leave work. Car dealerships know this and are starting to incorporate amenities into the dealership to help consumers make best use of their wait time. While you wait for your vehicle repairs to be complete, you can hit the gym, visit a salon, or you can work in a quiet and comfortable business center. But, car dealerships aren't alone. If consumers are forced to wait around, they're going to want something to keep them entertained. 

ICSC RECon is always such an inspiring event and this year was no different. As the retail landscape is changing, it's refreshing to collaborate with like-minded professionals on ideas to keep the built environment alive. Aligning with consumer expectations is the future of retail. I'm excited to see more of these ideas come to life.


Lori Bongiorno

by Lori Bongiorno

Principal, Director - Commercial Studio

Lori’s mixed use career at M+A started in 1997 with Easton Town Center and has grown expansively ever since. Creating dynamic, sustainable, active neighborhoods with great residential, retail, office and hospitality is what Lori does best. When she's not working on projects, she loves cooking and hanging out with her daughters.