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Shopping Center Business | Larger Than Life


By, Susan H. Fishman

RKF Retail Property Advisors continues phenomenal growth with new Mixed-use lifestyle projects to add to its national portfolio of assignments.

RKF Retail Property Advisors (RKF), a fairly new division of New York-based Robert K. Futterman & Associates, is the exclusive retail leasing consultant for three new mixed-use lifestyle projects in Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Woodbridge, Virginia; and Westwood, Massachusetts. The company is currently involved with developments totaling more than 4.5 million square feet in locations throughout the United States.

RKF focuses on lifestyle retail and mixed-use projects and assists owners and developers in devising the right merchandising mix, positioning or repositioning their projects, and executing those strategies from a leasing perspective. The division was formed by Mitch Friedel, formerly with the Related Companies, to expand nationally on the company’s expertise in retail leasing and consulting services. Friedel has experience with large-scale retail and mixed-use development projects, including Time Warner Center in New York City and City Place in West Palm Beach. With the division’s explosive growth, three new members have joined the team, including vice presidents Jeremy Ezra, previously with Ann Taylor; Matt Focht, previously with shopping center developer Pyramid; and Warren Dauber, who worked with Friedel in The Released Companies.

“The majority of the projects we work on are mixed-use, lifestyle type of projects where the retail is the predominant component of the overall development,” says Friedel.

Currently under construction, Town Place at Garden State Park is a new mixed-use project being developed by Edgewood Properties on the 223-acre site of the former Garden State Park racetrack in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

The project includes 250,000 square feet of lifestyle retail space, a 500,000-square-foot retail power center, 360 townhouses, 691 luxury apartment units, 608 active adult residential units, 1 million square feet of office space and a 200-key hotel. Bounded on the west by the New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line, on the south by Route 70, on the east by Haddonfield Road and on the north by Chapel Avenue, the project provides convenient accessibility and high visibility for retailers within the prestigious South New Jersey market.

So far, RKF has landed Cheesecake Factory, which is scheduled to open this year, McCormick & Schmick’s two concept restaurants, one upscale seafood restaurant and one upscale steak house, and Barnes & Noble. The majority of tenants are scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2007. Several high-profile national retailers have already committed to the project, says Friedel and the response from other comparable retailers has been overwhelming.

“Cherry Hill is a very affluent market, and other than the regional mall, there is really no other shopping alternative.” Notes Friedel. “And that’s why we’ve had so much interest in the initial lease-up. We’re very confident that the consumers in the area will choose to shop at our development versus the regional mall alternative.”

The Mills Corporation has hired RKF as a retail leasing consultant for its mixed-use Potomac Town Center in Woodbridge, Virginia. Potomac Town Center features 650,000 square feet of high-end retail and fine dining, 150,000 square feet of office space, 500 garden style and above-retail residential units and a hotel. The project is located off Interstate 95 between Opitz Road and Dale Boulevard where 400,000 cars pass the site per day. It’s directly across the highway from the Potomac Mills project, which draws around 18 million visitors a year. “There is already a tremendous customer base coming to the area,” Freidel notes.

Potomac Town Center, which will break ground this spring and open in fall 2007, will be anchored by Wegman’s and Macy’s. The interest from other optiereved, nationally recognized retailers has been overwhelming, according to Friedel, because of the power of the location, visibility and uniqueness of the development in the area.

“There is very little competition in the area; most of the retail development has been north,” he says. “This is one of the fastest areas of growth in the D.C. market, with double-digit growth in the last 5 years and average income levels in excess of $90,000.”

RKF is also working on another Mills Project, Meadowlands Xanadu, in East Rutherdford, New Jersey. The $1.3 billion mixed-use retail, entertainment and recreation development consists of 700,000 square feet of specialty retail space targeted for upscale, national retailers.

The third new project for RKF is Westwood Station, situated at the intersection of Route 128 and Interstate 95 in the prestigious Boston suburb of Westwood, Massachusetts. A joint venture of Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, the Commonfund and New England Development, Westwood Station will feature 1.5 million square feet of retail space, 1,000 residential units, 2 million square feet of office space and two hotels [see related article on New England Development in this issue for more on this project].

“The partners who are programming the site are some of the most dominant players in the New England market and because of that, they were able to assemble a substantial amount of property in such a prominent location,” says Friedel.

Boston-based architect Elkus-Manfredi, who is responsible for City Place in West Palm Beach and Time Warner Center in New York City, is the master architect on the project, which is scheduled to open in spring 2008.

“They’re the best at putting these types of projects together,” Friedel notes. “With this team and the location of the project, we’re obviously very optimistic about the success of the development.”

Like Town Place at Garden State Park, Westwood Station has two retail components, a 400,000-square-foot lifestyle center and a power center. RKF will assist with the leasing of the upscale lifestyle portion of the project, consisting of approximately 400,000 square feet.

In addition to RKF’s three most recent projects, the company is currently working on seven other developments, including: Bloomfield Park in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; The Mercato in Naples, Florida; Meadowlands Xanadu in East Rutherford, New Jersey; South-Side Works in Pittsburgh; Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood, California; and a mixed-use hotel, residential and casino development featuring 400,000 square feet of retail space in Las Vegas.


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