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Mall Do’s & Don’ts: Create a city within a city

Mason, Geoff urw crop
Mason holds that, when young people leave their homes, they're out to do a lot more than shop.

DO…pay attention to what consumers are looking for. They want everything at their fingertips--food, entertainment, luxury goods, fitness, and wellness. They want it 24 hours a day. And they don’t want to commute all over town to get it. So you want to create a city within a city.

What we did at Westfield UTC in San Diego is a good example. We switched Nordstrom to another box to optimize its location and create future development opportunities. We changed the tenant mix. We brought in Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Soul Cycle, top restaurants and wine bars. We repurposed an underutilized portion of land to build a luxury high-rise residen[1]tial building.

Younger people, whenever they’re going to leave their homes, are going to do shopping along with a lot of other things. Physicality and social interaction will be important for a long time to come.

DON’T…stay stuck in the past. Don’t focus only on long-term leases, because consumers always want more options and we have to focus on the consumer. Consumers don’t want to spend their whole day in a mall that’s 90% fashion.

Online shopping gave them a far more convenient way to discover what’s new. So what we need to do is provide them that same ability to explore and try new and different things in the physical space. We constantly have to be searching out new retailers, new food and beverage experiences, new entertainment, and fulfill other critical needs like convenient housing, offices, and hospitality.

Geoff Mason is the executive VP of development at Unibail Rodamco Westfield, which recently brought in Mill Creek Residential to build 550 luxury apartments at its Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J.

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