In the second article in our series on how to transform struggling shopping centers, RSP Principal Jeff Hysjulien discusses how and why Bayshore is a real-world example of the future of the American mall.
It’s a huge issue that crosses industries—what do developers and communities do with properties that have a struggling or closing anchor?
In fact, there are hundreds of shopping centers across the country grappling with this very problem. There are a lot of specifics and complexities behind the solutions. But, in general terms, developers have three paths to repositioning properties as community hubs—Repurpose, Redevelop or Remix.
Bayshore in Glendale, Wisconsin is the latest opportunity to show how our ideas work in the real world. RSP and developer Cypress Equities created a vision to move the property toward a future-leading remix of stores and activities.
BAYSHORE: A PART OF AMERICANA
In many ways, the story of Bayshore is the story of the great American mall. In its heyday, Bayshore Town Center was a community hub for Glendale and the greater Milwaukee area. It was built in the 1950s and managed to adapt, change and renovate just enough through the decades to keep local shoppers coming back. As Amazon and a surge in e-commerce ushered in the age of online shopping, keeping up with retail trends was no longer enough for Bayshore and hundreds of other similar shopping centers.
Leases began to expire. The central water feature and outdoor space came into disrepair. Empty storefronts led to increased crime. The town began to worry about safety in and around the property. Communities across the country can tell a similar story.
THE PATH FORWARD
It has been a slow slide to retail’s current state of affairs. We don’t want to discount the top-tier shopping centers that are still doing quite well, but they are the exception rather than the rule. What we do know is that the most successful shopping destinations have a few things in common: a mix of uses, a high proportion of food and beverage options, and an authentic vibe, whether it’s luxury, casual, artsy, or something else entirely.
At Bayshore, we had the opportunity to collaborate on much more than the design. We worked with the developer on master planning, tenant concepts and fit-outs, the types of tenants and their placements. And, of course, we worked through every aspect of the design.
DESIGNING A SENSE OF PLACE
We first addressed the existing two parking structures. The redesign takes advantage of those assets to better connect the various uses throughout the site. The goal was to reduce the retail GLA to half of what it was. The leasing strategy limits “traditional” mall tenants; the addition of Target and Total Wine will be a draw for the community. The rest is a good mix of national tenants, like a Trader Joe’s and a Goldfish Swim School, as well as local retailers, including an ice cream store and a coffee shop.
In creating a real sense of place, we also broke up the vehicular access points. It now feels more like a neighborhood with an activated streetscape. We added destination signage. And, as with many Cypress Equities properties, the design incorporates murals and local art throughout.
“The Yard” is the large public gathering space for events and seasonal activities. It replaces what was once the outdated, disused water feature and outdoor area of the old mall.
The finished center will also have a mix of townhomes, apartments and senior housing. The strong grocery element ties the residential components to the rest of the center. RSP’s master plan also made room for a hotel and fast-casual dining on the north side of the site, connected via pedestrian paths. The thoughtful mix of tenants and building types makes this plan a well-rounded, comprehensive vision for the future.
THE FUTURE OF THE AMERICAN MALL
Just as Bayshore’s history can be seen as a microcosm of the story of the American mall, it can also be a model for the future. Residents, developers and local media are already taking notice—the new center was named the Best Public/Private Partnership of the year by the Milwaukee Business Journal, with the Best Deal/Lease of the Year going to the Bayshore Target.
By thinking about what the community will want and need for decades to come, Bayshore is creating a new paradigm for what struggling shopping centers across the country can do to rethink their program and purpose.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Hysjulien AIA excels at master planning large-scale developments, most often for inventive lifestyle centers that include retail, wellness, entertainment and hospitality. Click to read more about Jeff.