In celebration of the one-year anniversary of the new ICSC brand — our “brandiversary” — we have asked some of our members to tell us how they are innovating commerce and serving communities through their businesses. In a new video series called “I am ICSC,” innovators and thought leaders share how the Marketplaces Industry is more than shopping centers, malls and main streets. It now encompasses all the places and spaces where people shop, work, play, dine and gather, all of which are vital ingredients to thriving local economies.
PECO knows the tenants at its properties are key members of the local communities and treats them as such, said senior director of national accounts Ashley Casey. “We recognize our tenants as our neighbors. Our hands-on team is intentional about maintaining a presence in the markets in which we have a shopping center. This means understanding our shoppers and our neighbors to best support businesses and enhance the vitality of each community.” One way PECO supports its neighbors: It shares data and retail trend information compiled by its in-house team with smaller companies that might not have access to such data. That helps them make smart business decisions and better serve their communities, she said.
Trademark innovates commerce by helping retailers create tangible expressions of their brands that also provide consumers with exceptional experiences, said senior vice president of property management Maranda Auzenne. That could mean anything from a winter wonderland holiday installation to a pop-up shop celebrating Black fashion designers. “It’s about creating marketplaces that make meaningful connections for people,” she said.
As part of its commitment to cultivating places where people connect, Rappaport studies local communities to help them get the retailers and services they need, according to director of leasing and brokerage Thomas Bolen III. For example, the firm’s Skyland Town Center in the Southeast neighborhood of Washington, D.C., brings much-needed amenities to the city’s underserved 7th and 8th wards, he said. “We worked alongside people in the community to prioritize their needs and to improve the quality of life,” he said.
Innovation and service is embodied in the Bell Works Chicagoland mixed-use development, which is becoming a new downtown for the community, said Kevin Kramer, director of economic development for the village of Hoffman Estates. The village sought out a developer and invested its own funds in a deal to redevelop an AT&T corporate campus into a property with offices, dining and leisure space to serve the community. “It is core to what we do as a municipality: creating socially active and vibrant places and working with developers and tenants to make it easier to invest,” Kramer said.
Development firm Primestor makes a positive social impact by bringing economic development and financial equity to the minority communities where it operates, according to real estate manager Matthew Ridley. Primestor’s diverse employees reflect the demographics where the firm operates, which ensures its properties are serving local needs. “Our business is serving the community with cultural influence,” he said. “We’re a diverse team, reflecting the culture and the community we serve. We are the community.”
Colliers is helping its tenant clients find the most sustainable and energy-efficient spaces they can, among other concerns, said Heather Hargraves Atlanta vice president for Colliers' Retail Services group. “Tech has transformed our placemaking efforts,” she said.
At Cafe Rio, it’s all about innovating new tech and methods of serving customers the food they want when and where they want it, said chief development officer Grant Guidinger. In response to consumer demand, the company has opened omnichannel units where consumers can order via mobile app, in-store kiosk or drive-thru window. “It’s an exciting time in the industry,” Guidinger said, “because so many operators are advancing the way they connect with consumers and serve the communities in which they operate.”
Coreland Cos. acknowledges its role in providing appealing places for communities to gather and connect. “A thriving retail center has an immeasurably positive impact economically and socially,” said managing principal Vicky Hammond. “A safe, thriving shopping center with a vibrant mix of retailers and restaurants is the core to any strong community. It supports true connection within all our neighborhoods.”