I often write about my colleagues and projects on the East Coast, but in every post I try to find lessons and strategies that are applicable to communities nationwide. Most people would agree – the Meatpacking District in New York City is a unique place. The area has changed drastically in the past decade. Today it is home to the High Line, a section of former elevated train tracks that have been redesigned as an aerial greenway – the first and so far only such park in the nation. This amazing amenity has spurred rapid community change. By 2009, more than 30 real estate projects were under construction nearby, and the local business district has turned into a high-end fashion mecca, with the like of DVF and Stella McCartney opening up shops. With asking rents from $200 to $500 a square foot, you might be wondering how the Meatpacking District might hold lessons for other communities. Believe it or not – there are a few universal lessons that offer insight for other communities.
The use of a non-traditional, non-retail anchor to drive visitation to the district. In 2011, the High Line welcomed 3.7 million visitors. The spending power of those visitors is keenly visible in nearby streets and in businesses. Unlike a managed mall environment, where the retail anchor is the primary driver of visitation, urban communities have a myriad of ways to drive traffic. Whether it’s a tremendous local park, or an activity packed library, these visitation drivers are the “new” downtown anchors. As you consider communicating new business opportunities to retailers, don’t forget to map and quantify the visitors to these non-retail anchors. They can be as important, or more important, than any traditional retail anchor.
|From today’s NYTimes, a rending of the new
Whitney Museum under the High Line.
Continued efforts to improve tenant mix and co-locate anchors through new development. As if the High Line weren’t enough, today’s New York Times speaks to the coming of the Whitney Museum. As a broker said in the article “There are pockets of vacancies, which means the side streets aren’t doing as well as they could, so a project that will offer a variety of stores and will attract shoppers and increase foot traffic is just what is needed.” The project will offer a single retail tenant up to 16,000 sf of space – a unique offering in a district replete with smaller spaces in historic buildings.