Modern town centers depend greatly on weekly events programming as traffic draws. Has that always played a role in your lifestyle centers?
It’s something we’ve done since our inception. We didn’t have multimillion-dollar budgets to advertise on TV, so we always have used events to bring people to the centers and create an emotional tie to the communities. Going back years ago, my dad and Terry worked with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to do night walks. We work with and encourage tenants to stage regular events—yoga classes put on by Lululemon is a good example.
Did you survive the pandemic well due to the diversity of your tenant mixes?
We had a tough time. Traffic just dropped by 80%. Now, we have medical tenants and grocery stores—that’s 20% of our portfolio--but lots of individual tenants shut down. It depended on where you were in the country, though. We have properties in Florida and Georgia where, by last May, you didn’t know there was a pandemic going on. In the Northeast, re-openings were much slower.
What was your biggest learning during the pandemic?
Adaptability and flexibility. It’s something we’ve always preached. But the biggest learning during the pandemic was that people don’t have to eat inside. We set up picnic tables. And they don’t have to eat on the property. We embraced Door Dash and Uber Eats. We set up special parking spots for them, and that’s something that is going to stay.