Levin Inks Three Dozen Leases June-September 2014

Momentum Confirms Retail Real Estate Trend in Northeast

We’ve been seeing the health of retail real estate in the Northeast improve steadily over the past year – and reporting on it regularly here on our blog. Leasing activity at Levin-managed properties now confirms that a positive retail real estate trend is, in fact, in progress. Levin has inked more than three dozen new leases, renewals and expansions totaling 277,000 square feet during the period of June through September. Our year-to-date activity total now exceeds 600,000 square feet, marking continued momentum for the Northeast retail real estate market, where the majority of our 13 million-square-foot, 95-property leasing and management portfolio is located.

Establishing or Expanding a Footprint Drives Retail Leasing in Northeast Region

Our largest new lease in the period from June through September involved a 30,808-square-foot commitment by discount apparel and home fashion retailer Stein Mart, which will open its first Long Island location at Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack, N.Y. In New Jersey, T.J.Maxx leased 23,000 square feet at St. Georges Crossing in Woodbridge, while Staples signed on for 14,249 square feet at North Village Shopping Center in North Brunswick. At Mid-Town Plaza in Middletown, Pa., a 7,400-square-foot lease to AutoZone represented our largest recent Keystone State transaction.

Levin president Matthew K. Harding notes that retail leasing has picked up markedly among tenants looking to establish or expand their footprints in the Northeast. Grocers, affordable fitness chains, off-price retailers and fast-casual restaurants are among the most active categories, with strong demand from national, local and franchise companies.

As Vacancies Drop, Rents Rise. New Construction Projects Deliver Results

Vacancies are on the decline and rents are trending up at quality properties, sparking stepped-up new development and expansion/renovation work at well-located shopping centers. In fact, both the T.J.Maxx and AutoZone leases will be accommodated by property expansions at St. Georges Crossing and Mid-Town Plaza, respectively.

“The success of recently completed construction management projects are bright spots in the Northeast retail real estate market,” Harding said in a recent press release. “And while we will continue to see quality inventory added to meet growing demand, the maturity of the market, combined with lengthy approval and building processes, will keep the supply/demand ratio in check. Looking ahead, we expect the market’s stability to increase – gradually, not rapidly – over the next couple of years.” That’s a welcome retail real estate trend and one worth watching. ###

Halloween Stores are the Tip of the Pop-Up Iceberg

Short-Term Leases Have Gone Beyond a Retail Real Estate Trend

It’s an established cycle. Halloween stores brimming with costumes, decorations and accessories spring up like pumpkin patches around Labor Day and then, as the winter holiday shopping season rolls in, they vanish from the mall or shopping center (to be replaced perhaps by a temporary crafts boutique, a toy store or a marketer of calendars). Second only to Christmas as America’s favorite holiday, Halloween is a potent driver of retail sales. According to projections of the National Retail Federation, 2014’s Halloween shopper will spend an average of $77.52 and total spending will reach $7.4 billion, up from $6.9 billion last year. Behind that upward spike is a strengthening economy and the fact that October 31 falls on a Friday, giving Halloween revelers a full weekend to celebrate.

Levin Management’s temporary tenants – Halloween City in Paramus Place and Clifton Plaza and Masquerade at Brunswick Shopping Center – are in holiday sales mode. Like all tenants that are leasing a retail space on a short-term basis, these popular, heavily promoted specialty stores boost traffic and sales for the entire shopping center in which they are located. And although Halloween stores, which have grown in numbers by 30 percent over the last four years, are the heavyweights of holiday pop-ups, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Fourth of July stores are gaining in popularity.

A Retail Real Estate Trend No More: Pop-Ups are Here to Stay

Now a well-established part of the U.S. retail scene, pop-ups began life in the early 90s in densely populated urban centers like New York, Tokyo, London and Los Angeles, providing emerging brands the opportunity to access consumers in high-rent retail zones for a limited period, usually less than three months. The concept proved a retail real estate win-win for budget-conscious renters and property owners with vacancies to fill.

By the end of the decade, big players began to realize the value of leasing a retail space short-term – for market testing, promotions and new product introductions, as well as for moving merchandise, offering seasonal goods and services, or penetrating specific geographic areas. Target, with 1,000-plus stores in the U.S., leased a 1,500-square foot pop-up in Rockefeller Center to launch its Isaac Mizrahi line in 2002. Toys “R” Us set the pace in 2010, supplementing its 800-plus stores and its e-commerce sites by leasing 600 pop-ups across the U.S. during the Christmas season. Since that time, such diverse companies as HBO, eBay, United Healthcare, Song Airlines, H&R Block and even Microsoft have taken the pop-up route into targeted markets.

Online Giants Choose Pop-Ups to Test Brick and Mortar Retailing, Reach New Markets

Following the lead of fellow online retail pioneer eBay, the mighty Amazon announced it will enter the world of U.S. pop-ups on October 22, with the opening of a store in the Westfield San Francisco Center. Amazon had previously leased a pop-up in China. The new store will offer Amazon’s latest branded electronic products, including FireTV, Fire Phone, Fire Tablets and the most recent version of the Kindle e-reader. The company has leased a Midtown Manhattan space as well, which is scheduled to open shortly.

Demand for Pop-Ups Generates a New Retail Estate Trend  

Meet Storefront. Its twenty-something co-founder Tristan Pollock calls it “the Airbnb of retail,” and it is transforming the business of short-term commercial retail leasing. Through its website, TheStorefront.com, it connects owners of vacant space in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, to individuals and companies shopping for pop-ups. Venues range from booth space at festivals and in transit stations to nooks in hotels or galleries to storefronts in high-end neighborhoods like New York’s Soho. Daily rates run from a few hundred dollars to upwards of $5,000. Tenants who have connected with properties through Storefront include online fashion retailers Indochino, Hatch, and Storenvy and artists like Kanye West, who marketed promotional merchandise from his Yeezus tour in a branded shop (daily rent $1,550) on New York’s Bowery. Unlike a booth at a concert venue, the shop, which was opened for the four days of the New York concerts, attracted media coverage and a stream of celebrity shoppers.

For its matching services, Storefront collects commissions in the 6-12 percent range, which includes general liability insurance. David Bell, professor of marketing at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times that Storefront is “like Airbnb, eBay and Uber rolled into one. It matches excess capacity with demand in an efficient, scalable way.” And that sounds like a retail real estate trend in the making.



Stein Mart Moves into Long Island Market

National Discount Retailer to Open at Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack

Stein Mart, the Jacksonville-headquartered discount apparel and home fashion retailer, is set to open its first store on Long Island in the Levin-managed Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack. The store will occupy 30,800 square feet of space in the 221,000-square-foot shopping center.

Expansion Reflects Retail Real Estate Trend in Recovering Economy

Stein Mart, which is undergoing its largest expansion since 2007, had been shopping the Long Island commercial retail real estate market for space for some time before selecting the Levin-managed property. The retailer currently operates more than 260 stores in 29 states. Each store offers a distinctive assortment of current-season, brand-name fashion apparel for women and men, along with accessories, home décor, linens and shoes – all at prices up to 60 percent off brand name and specialty merchandise. Typical brand offerings are Coach, Michael Kors, Anne Klein, Vince Camuto, Robert Graham, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Nine West and Vera Bradley, among many others.

Retail Leasing Activity is Brisk at Well-Positioned Mayfair Shopping Center

The new Stein Mart space was formerly occupied by MJM Designer Shoes. The brand-name shoe, sandal, boot and sneaker retailer is relocating to a newly leased 12,000-square-foot space within Mayfair Shopping Center. Smartphone and tablet expert I-Fix-Screens also recently joined the center’s tenant mix, leasing 1,200 square feet. Other tenants include the anchor tenant, a 60,000-square-foot Waldbaum’s supermarket, Gap/Gap Kids, Ann Taylor Loft, New York & Company, Justice, Jos. A. Bank, Chico’s, Claire’s Accessories, GameStop, Verizon Wireless, Rite Aid, Sherwin Williams, Cactus Beauty Salon, Capital One Bank, H&R Block and Outback Steakhouse. Choice Pet Supply opened at the center in August. Inline spaces (1,320 SF to 2,550 SF) and a newly constructed 3,750-square-foot end cap restaurant space remain available.

Mayfair Shopping Center commands a prime position on the heavily traveled Jericho Turnpike just east of the Sunken Meadow Parkway. It serves a growing residential population of more than 205,000 people within a five-mile radius, with an average household income of more than $116,800. The daily traffic count exceeds 29,000 vehicles.

Mayfair and Stein Mart Cited as “Perfect Fit” in Retail Leasing

In a recent interview with Newsday, Hunt Hawkins, Stein Mart’s president and COO, calls Mayfair’s locale and tenant mix “a perfect fit” for their target customer. Hawkins’ assessment is echoed by our senior leasing representative Jake Frantzman, who negotiated the transaction. He cites the mutual advantages of the new lease, which enhances Mayfair Shopping Center’s existing appeal to Long Island shoppers and supports Stein Mart’s national expansion strategy into a lucrative new market of targeted customers.