Retail Grows with the Times

By Simon Hartzell, Director of New Office Sales, NAI Global

Retail real estate – it’s not your grandfather’s business anymore.

Every aspect of the business is changing. On the technology front, we have artificial intelligence (AI), cryptocurrency, and virtual funding, as well as Matterport and its 3D gallery, which enhances property marketing. On the logistics side, we have the autonomy that comes with driverless cars and commercial delivery trucks. Then there’s Amazon and e-commerce driving the convergence of industrial real estate and retail real estate as supply chain logistics evolve. And in terms of culture and consumer demand, we’re seeing developers focus on creating cool places to be. Cultivating “a sense of place” is now a pre-requisite for any and all new development projects.

Simon Hartzell, NAI Global

We’re growing with the times — not just because we have to, but because we’re embracing it. For an industry that has historically been slow to adapt to change and technology, change is here and it’s coming faster than ever.

As an example of a leap in technology, Dutch retailer Ahold Delhaize is deploying artificial intelligence to enhance how it orders food from suppliers for its U.S.-based brands, including Food Lion, Giant Martin’s, Hannaford, Giant, Stop&Shop and Peapod. The move is intended to better predict consumer demand around food buying, and get perishables and other products to stores faster. The company piloted this initiative last year in its Food Lion and Hannaford chains and will roll it out over the next three years across all six U.S. brands.

Looking at place-making, developer LRC Properties offers a great example. Downtown Durham, North Carolina — which enjoys new status in the region as a changed, cool-place-to-be thanks to the redevelopment of the 120-year-old American Tobacco building — continues to evolve. LRC Properties opened Mill No. 1 after redeveloping a portion of the Golden Belt Manufacturing Co. warehouse properties (circa 1901) that border Main and Taylor streets in Downtown. LRC converted 188,000 square feet into offices, creative “maker” space and restaurants.

The firm doubled down and purchased the adjacent Golden Belt property, which was renovated in 2008. The historic mill acquisition, with its office, apartments and artist studios, recombined for the first time in decades on the original Golden Belt Manufacturing Company campus, creates a new mixed-use environment that contains about 380,000 square feet. Robin Roseberry Anders and Jordan Williams of NAI Carolantic Realty Inc. in Raleigh are managing leasing for this project.

The reunified Golden Belt Manufacturing Co. campus has attracted retailers like Hi-Wire Brewing, as well as companies like WillowTree, Strata Solar and Pairwise Plants. The Golden Belt campus is just one example of the activated, diversified environments that can be realized in this new age of retail, technology and mixed uses.

— Sponsored by NAI Global as part of Shopping Center Business’ Retail Insight series. 

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