Across the globe we are seeing a shift from generic mega-malls and out-of-town standalone shopping centres to right-sized, authentic, experience-led mixed-use precincts, in better connected urban areas with a stronger sense of place. Conventional malls as we know them must now reinvent themselves and evolve or face lower levels of relevance and ultimately reduced valuations.
From Miami to Istanbul, Shanghai to Singapore, Dubai to Dublin, scale retail is evolving and differentiating, and better blending into the urban fabric of higher density settings.
In the age of internet retailing, physical bricks and mortar stores must work harder to entice consumers away from their screens and into their stores and new brand experiences. High-quality and well-considered architecture, as well as strong retail design, now play more pronounced roles in the creation of an authentic sense of place and experience. More than ever before, we are now seeing more architects and designers working in scale retail environments, deploying their talents to integrate the public realm with F&B, leisure, entertainment, art, culture, transport, omni-channel experiences as well as other traditional mixed-use scheme elements. This trend is very evident in the streets & squares and parks schemes emerging around the globe.
At Hines, we don’t believe the days of the regional mall are over – they are consolidating and transforming into more experience-led, authentic urban destinations in our cities and towns, and also creating different reasons for different people to visit at different times of day.
This is certainly the driving force behind our vision in Ireland and Europe, particularly as we deliver Cherrywood Town Centre, our next generation retail destination in South Dublin. When opened it will be the newest scale retail product in Dublin in almost 20 years, affording us every opportunity to develop a retail-led mixed-use scheme built on learnings from around the globe that also embraces the future.
Cherrywood will deliver customers and retailers a combination of right-sized retail for the future and a balanced mix of uses, complemented by an urban place design based on the optimal customer journey and effortless access to services and experiences. It will be a step-change from a generic regional mall.
Seamless connectivity to several new-to-market F&B and leisure concepts from road and rail, the provision of dark kitchens and home delivery logistics, valet parking services, central click, collect and return services with back of house loading interfaces, ride sharing drop-offs and comfortable pick-up lounges, together with our public bike parking and end of trip shower and changing facilities are all examples of a focus on the customer and their evolving preferences in high density urban settings.
The trend over the last 10 years has been towards a new breed of scale urban retail design that, through a variety of different forms, better delivers on the experience promise as well as the push into denser urban centres with stronger public transport integration and a more vibrant evening trading environment.
Chengdu’s Taikoo Li, Shanghai’s Xi Tian Di, Dubai’s City Walk, Osaka’s Namba Park, LA’s Century City, Washington DC’s CityCentreDC, Miami’s Art District, Oxford’s Westgate, Istanbul’s Hilltown and Dubai Squares’ more recent plans for the largest scheme in the world, are all examples of urban retail settings that have embraced the streets & squares product approach and have placed a strong emphasis on the creation of an authentic sense of place with an attractive public realm which encourages stronger social connections day and night.
After many years of indifference, consumers are now, more than ever, increasingly aware of sustainability matters in the retail industry whether it be fashion retailers or developers of physical real estate. Open air and sheltered streets & squares environments typically will be far more sustainable than traditional air-conditioned regional malls, benefiting from significant natural light penetration and ventilation, effectively reducing energy consumption in common areas. Furthermore, the push into more high-density urban settings is seeing a far stronger likelihood of walkable or car-lite locations for these streets & squares schemes, which effectively encourage the use of sustainable public transport interfaces. Again, all big ticks for the environment that also meet the expectations of increasingly knowledgeable and savvy customers who are demanding change.
Derek Rossel is development director at Hines and is currently leading the development of the Cherrywood Town Centre project in South Dublin