ULI Baltimore Bulletin

The New Experience: The Transformation of Retail Settings into Unique Places

On Thursday, September 14th, industry experts gathered to discuss the state of retail, the industry’s response, and what defines the new ‘third place’ in this evolving landscape. This ULI/ABC/AIA program was held at Tabrizi’s Restaurant and drew more than 80 guests. Maureen McAvey, Senior Resident Fellow, ULI Washington, moderated the discussion and introduced the program by defining this third place as safe, accessible, casual, social, walkable and pedestrian/bike /car friendly.

Jim Agliata, Vice President of Development, Westfield, one of the world’s largest owners of retail centers, stated that Westfield is creating community and memorable experiences and incorporating a mix of uses other than retail, including multifamily, office, and hospitality. Grant Ehat, Managing Partner, Willard Retail, believes retail is extremely challenged today; that America is over-retailed; internet sales are growing; and, shopping centers are failing. As a result, both the retailer and developer have to be extremely savvy. He added that food-related retail continues to be the fastest growing retail sector today.

Nick Egelanian, President, SiteWorks Retail, followed by giving a history of the retail industry. He believes we are in the final phase of the demise of the department store; and, that retail is divided into commodity and specialty and that both typically cannot be successfully mixed. Nick stated that, although internet sales are growing (8.5% of total retail sales), bricks and mortar retail remains strong, despite losing the public relations war. img_6025

Bryce Turner, President/CEO, BCT Architects and DDG wrapped up the discussion by speaking about the creation and design of this third place that has become so popular. He stated that today it can combine multiple uses such as office, residential, food, and beverage, entertainment and hospitality. The third place is comfortable and authentic. The design aesthetic must be textural and speak to the surrounding community. As an architect, his firm is seeing less ground-up projects and more repositioning and redevelopment to accommodate gathering opportunities, pedestrian environments, other uses, and ground-level retail. In conclusion, although these are challenging times for those in the retail industry, opportunities abound and the industry is responding in innovative ways.

Presentation slides can be viewed HERE

View photos from the event HERE

Thank you to our Event Sponsors: 

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Thank you to our In-Kind Event Sponsor: 


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