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PREIT's Joseph Coradino on the mall's future

As we look ahead one thing is crystal clear: What was previously known as the mall has evolved well beyond its traditional definition.

Building upon the foundation laid by our retail core, we contend that we are now curators Ð creating customized, continuously evolving properties that generate success for our tenants and meaningful impact for the communities we serve. At PREIT, we see this focused around five core growth areas that we have identified: Multi-family & Hotels, Grocery & Essential Uses, Healthcare & Wellness, Experiential, and of course all varieties of Retail.

Along these lines, in the past month, we welcomed our first Aldi grocery store and opened a 104,000-sq.-ft. Tilt Studio family entertainment center at Magnolia Mall. These additions have proven to attract a broader customer base with weekend mall traffic up 33% at Dartmouth Mall following the opening of Aldi. In Florence, S.C., consumers would have to drive over an hour to find a similar offering.

In the coming months we will continue to open distinctive tenants. Turn 7 is opening at Moorestown in November. Turn 7 is a specialty liquidator that offers a wide array of brand name merchandise including housewares, ready-to-wear apparel, and accessories. In 2023, we will be opening a Cooper University Healthcare outpatient facility to Moorestown, where we also have approvals to bring over 1,000 apartment units and a hotel. This will be a truly game-changing mix of destinations for a property in a highly competitive retail market.

In 2022, Tilt Studio will open an action-packed two-story 104,000-sq.-ft. Tilted 10 and Studio indoor family entertainment center at Willow Grove Park. The premier facility will feature a restaurant with chef-inspired menu; premier bowling lanes; multi-level laser tag; black light mini golf; bumper cars; virtual reality; Pinball, and more than 200 games and attractions.

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“The consumer is back and is responding to a differentiated tenant that offers them ways to enhance their daily lives.”

In the first quarter of next year we will open our first self-storage facility in under-utilized below-grade space at Mall at Prince George’s. In this community, hundreds of apartment units have been developed in the last decade, so this use is a perfect addition to keep footsteps at our doors and ensure success for our existing tenants.

What these projects have in mind is that there is no longer a cookie-cutter approach to retail. It’s about customizing the right program for your real estate.

How do we know our strategy will be effective or is the right path for the future? For starters, we can look at core metrics Ð traffic and sales. October traffic remained robust at over 90% of 2019 levels and with total visits up 3% over 2018. And sales have grown beyond that of 2019. For the third quarter, sales for comparable tenants were up 14% in our core portfolio compared to the 2019 period.

The consumer is back and is responding to our strategically curated portfolio in core markets with a differentiated tenant base that offers our communities purposeful places that enhance their daily lives. A proactive approach to continuously optimizing the portfolio has yielded success for our tenants--which is a cherished principle in any action we take.

About the Author

Joseph Coradino

Joseph F. Coradino is chairman & CEO of PREIT, an owner-operator of 18 malls in the eastern United States.

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