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Entertainment and Experience Guide the Future of Retail

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It’s no secret that mixed-use developments are incorporating an increasing amount of entertainment uses and experience-centric concepts into their projects. Gone are the days of shopping-only destinations. Developers and local municipalities are focusing more and more on complex retail-led mixed-use formats to attain a focal point for social, commercial and economic growth.

How consumers want to spend their free time has changed; shopping by itself isn’t considered an experience anymore. Instead, people want to spend quality time with their family and friends, and crave new and unique food offerings, interactive retail and an ever-changing offering of activities to engage in within their shopping destinations. People are seeking out activities, not just things to buy or homogenized places to eat. To accommodate this growing desire, developers have adapted and are creating properties that are entertainment and experience driven which ultimately results in driving retail sales.

The South has an abundance of developments popping up, possibly more than anywhere else in the country, thanks to its climate and land availability. The milder climate enables developers to incorporate more outdoor elements like amphitheaters, children’s play areas, trail systems, and concepts such as TopGolf, as well as experiences like free yoga or movies being displayed in gathering spaces. Additionally, these developments tend to require a lot of room, something that a dense, urban city such as Boston or Los Angeles don’t have.

Below is a look at three projects throughout the Southeast that are incorporating these elements in interesting and unique ways.

The Battery Atlanta at SunTrust Park – Atlanta

The Battery Atlanta at SunTrust Park, currently under construction, will be Atlanta’s first mixed-use development centered around a major league sporting facility. While the Braves will bring plenty of attendees to the property during their 81 home games, Fuqua Development had to figure out how to bring people to the property 365 days a year. With under a year until completion, The Roxy Theatre, King’s Bowling and LiveNation Amphitheater are secured for the 74-acre project. These entertainment concepts, along with numerous unique restaurants and retail shops, are showing great promise for a successful year-round destination for both local and regional visitors.

ONE DAYTONA – Daytona, Florida

International Speedway Corp. broke ground recently on ONE DAYTONA, located in Daytona, Florida, across from the Daytona International Speedway. The project, which is slated to open in 2017, will include 300,000 sq. ft. of retail, restaurant and entertainment space, and is anchored by a 12-screen Cobb Theatres multiplex and Bass Pro Shops. The focal point of the development is Victory Circle, a 360-degree open-air space, where visitors can watch live music and dine outside at one of the many restaurants located around the Circle. Daytona is best known for its world class beaches and is the home of Daytona International Speedway, which hosts over 300 events annually, including the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s most prestigious race which brings in crowds nearing 125,000 people.

MidCity – Huntsville, Alabama

Without a doubt, MidCity in Huntsville, Alabama, will be a truly regional destination when it opens in early 2018. The 100-acre development, located in the heart of the city, is slated to include a live music venue, several outdoor entertainment concepts and a 15-acre park that includes rental canoes and bicycles. MidCity is designed to be a truly 24/7 destination, with the intention to bring visitors to the property around the clock.

These projects are a true reflection on the changing retail landscape. Looking ahead, expect to see several existing and new developments to incorporate entertainment, the outdoors, and experience-centric concepts into their projects.

Monetha Cobb is managing director for Franklin Street Real Estate Services, specializing in retail tenant services throughout the Southeast.

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