The Top 10 COMEBACK Retail Center Experiences: No. 9 Naperville Crossings

Al Urbanski
Real Estate Editor & Manager
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Normally, this spot in our July-August issue presents the year’s Top 10 Retail Center Experiences, an all-star lineup of retail centers that over-achieve in adding merriment to the merchandise. But guest experiences have been few in this virus-plagued year, so Chain Store Age decided to shine a light on centers and retail real estate companies that are leading the way in creating safe, yet still-inviting experiences to draw crowds back to their properties. In this challenging time, our COMEBACK centers are re-engaging their visitors with society, not just retail. The editors of CSA's No. 9 pick is: 

At the end of February, Phillips Edison & Company posted the best operating results in its history. Three weeks later, its world turned upside-down.

PECO manages 317 properties across 31 states and, while every one of its centers has a Publix or a Walmart or a Kroger that hit sales records during April and May, 37% of its tenants — whom PECO calls “neighbors” — were out of business.

“Each had a different issue. Gyms, clothing stores, and restaurants all had different things going on. Now, these people are entrepreneurs and they’re going to solve their own problems. What we tried to do was give them the best chance to make a profit,” Edison said.

Neighbors at Naperville Crossings in Naperville, Ill., got together to work out solutions for prospering in the shadow of coronavirus restrictions. A landscaped island on the property was converted into a large patio with outdoor dining. Restaurant staffs united to keep the area clean and inviting and to collaborate on curbside pick-up and carry-out options.

More tenants than ever joined PECO’s DashComm communications network to access PECO Connect and obtain social media signage, grand opening banners, flyers, and coupons. A Tenant Rewards program helped small business neighbors apply for loans through the CARES Act.

“We offered neighbors dollars off their rents for using DashComm to create a sense of community, and being part of the community is something that got embraced.” Edison said. “It’s like being in a war. You never want to wish that on somebody, but you emerge from it stronger.”

Stay tuned for daily profiles of the next eight centers. Until then, catch up on what you missed:

No. 1 RIO
No. 2 Easton Town Center
No. 3 Halcyon
No. 4 Westfield Galleria at Roseville
No. 5 The Avenue East Cobb
No. 6 MainPlace
No. 7 Assembly Row
No. 8 Hill Country Galleria