Squares, curves and triangles

In
years past, most every national upscale clothing and accessory retailer
has set up shop in a traditional mall, with Penn Square topping the
list.

Those have included Banana
Republic, J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Apple and Coach. For Anthropologie,
experts say Penn Square seemed the most likely choice, but the company,
owned by Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters, plans to open next to
Whole Foods Market in a space that has yet to be built: a development
dubbed Triangle at Classen Curve.

“I
was somewhat surprised,” says Mark Inman, a retail broker with CB
Richard Ellis|Oklahoma. “It’s a bit unusual, but I think they’re on to
something.”

This
departure from the traditional mall is a trend toward some upscale
retailers locating in lifestyle centers, according to local retail
experts, but don’t write off malls just yet.

“People
don’t need to worry about malls going away,” says Jim Parrack, senior
vice president at Price Edwards & Co. “They are a unique part of our
shopping culture.”

One
thing that helps malls such as Penn Square is that the metro area does
not have a large lifestyle center that could lure its tenants away.
Inman says a true lifestyle center has at least 200,000- 250,000 square
feet.

“That’s kind of
the magic number of cotenancy square footage, where you can attract
other high-end stores,” he says. “Since we don’t have that, our option
is Penn Square.”

While
the metro area has a smattering of upscale centers, including Spring
Creek Village and Spring Creek Plaza in Edmond, each with about 60,000
square feet, there is nothing comparable to Tulsa’s more-than-
400,000-square-foot Utica Square.

Chesapeake
Energy Corp., owner and developer of the Whole Foods and Triangle
sites, has been tight-lipped about additional development on that block.
Until such a time that a lifestyle center comes along, Penn Square
likely will be where many upscale brands land.

“Penn Square is still ground zero,” Inman says. “There is a co-tenancy of higher-end stores, and it’s a very strong mall.”

With
many malls around the country and around the metro area struggling, one
website, Deadmalls.com, is dedicated to tracking those, but no one is
writing an  obituary
for Penn Square. With almost consistent 100% occupancy, it continues to
be one of the healthiest malls in the region, and is hardly gathering
cobwebs, says Alison Oshel, director of community redevelopment for the
Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

On the heels of the Anthropologie announcement, Penn Square picked up two additional national tenants: women’s retailer

Apricot Lane is set to open in August, and Fossil, known for its watches, handbags and apparel, is set to open in September.

With
Penn Square staying full, it provides a stumbling block for the
chamber’s efforts to lure additional upscale retailers. Oshel says there
is plenty of interest, but few options for retailers looking to open
shop here. She says if the Triangle is developed with additional retail, there would be no
problem filling that future space. It is located just west of the
Chesapeake campus at N.W. 63rd Street and Western Avenue.

“If Chesapeake would develop all the land it has for retail, we could fill it up,” she says. “We’ve got that much interest.”

Parrack
says, at some point in the near future, developers may need to begin
looking at building a large lifestyle center here. For now, he says
nothing is in the works. With financing hard to acquire and retail just
rebounding from the recession, a lifestyle center will be needed, but
where it would be, and who would pay for it are questions that remain.

“If
we’re going to attract more highend retailers, we’re going to need a
project built that is of the quality and in a location to satisfy the
needs of those kinds of retailers,” he says.

Related posts

*

*

Top