Courtesy City Creek Center
Published April 01, 2014
It is a big year for shopping. Whether you’re looking for luxury, waiting for a developed tourism program at a shopping destination or just hoping for your favorite brands to finally make it to a shopping destination near you, this is your year. New retail developments have been planned across the country.
Assembly Row outside Boston is pioneering an entirely new shopping concept, and the Fashion Outlets of Chicago marry travel and shopping like never before. Salt Lake City’s City Creek Center brings nature indoors, and Magnolia Park brings the nation to the Carolinas. And in California, a major renovation brings luxury to the forefront at Westfield Valley Fair.
Westfield Valley Fair
Santa Clara, California
Grounded by a complete gutting of the food court — now a dining terrace with a patio and fire pits for chilly California evenings — the Westfield Valley Fair in the heart of Silicon Valley is in the midst of a major upgrade to its high-end offerings.
“Ferragamo, Prada and Miu Miu debuted at the center last fall, along with the reopening of the dining terrace,” said Matthew Ehrie, northwest district vice president at Westfield. “This year we’ve got Giorgio Armani opening in June and Carolina Herrera closer to August.”
The renovation brings the center up to 1.5 million square feet and 250 retailers; 60 new stores opened last fall, including one of only a dozen U.S. locations of the innovative, high-tech Japanese brand UNIQLO and a two-level, 20,000-square-foot Zara that joined early this year.
Nationally, the Westfield Travel Collection is introducing a new tourism initiative this year and launching a Passport to Savings coupon book and concierge services. Complete details will be announced this month at the International Pow Wow trade show.
Greenville, South Carolina
Soon to hit 1 million square feet, Magnolia Park, on 86 acres at the intersection of Interstates 85 and 385, is bringing a shopping experience to South Carolina that the region has never experienced.
“We’re focusing not only on regional shopping and entertainment, but things that don’t exist anywhere else in the state or in the Carolinas,” said Marc Yavinsky, executive vice president for Menin Development Inc. “Many restaurants and retailers are making their South Carolina or Southeastern U.S. debut at our center, such as the first Nordstrom in South Carolina.”
Although the center is already home to the top-grossing movie theater in the Carolinas, it’s also bringing other national dining and entertainment brands in to make their South Carolina debuts, among them Tucano’s Brazilian Grill, Dave and Busters, and Toby Keith’s, a bar and grill with live country music.
About 700,000 square feet of the center is now operational, with the 100,000-square-foot Cabela’s outdoor store opening April 3.
“Other restaurants and retailers will be opening throughout the year,” said Yavinsky. “We’ll be fully complete by the end of the year, and we’ll set up our tourism and groups programs once we’re open.”
City Creek Center
Salt Lake City, Utah
When a natural landmark runs through the middle of your shopping mall, it’s only natural that nature is a big part of the spectacle.
“We have two retractable courtyards, and on most days, we have the skylights and the indoor walls open,” said Dee Brewer, marketing and sponsorship director. “We also have fountains by the designer that did the fountains at the Bellagio, and we run fountain shows at the top of the hour.”
City Creek Center is directly across from Utah’s most popular tourist attraction: historic Temple Square, the gardens and grounds of the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Groups can opt for a tour package that includes touring Temple Square, a $20 City Creek gift card, a Passport to Shopping discount book, a gift, and lunch or dinner at the Lion House Pantry, a home-style restaurant in Brigham Young’s former residence.
“I would plan at least two hours minimum to visit Temple and shop,” said Brewer. “You can tour Temple Square in 30 minutes, but there are probably four to five hours of options, including a personal genealogical history workup. We also offer architectural walking tours within the center.”
Just two subway stops from downtown Boston, Assembly Row is creating a new outlet shopping experience that is the first of its kind in the country, combining outlets and traditional retail with dining, housing and entertainment.
“Because we’re a neighborhood, we’re going to be unfolding,” said Andrea Simpson, director of marketing and tourism.
Memorial Day weekend, when the first Legoland in New England opens, is the main kickoff event, and 20 to 25 tenants are expected to be open by June 1, with the remainder opening over the course of the summer.
With a focus on lifestyle experiences, Assembly Row will offer entertainment options from morning till midnight. During the day, the river plays the backdrop to morning yoga classes, art lessons and kayaking trips; the waterfront park transforms into a concert space in the evening.
“We have an on-site concierge center for groups for vouchers and welcome packs, but we can customize a specialized package in advance,” Simpson said. “We can bring in Saks on Fifth for a champagne toast talking about next year’s trends. We had one group come for morning yoga on the river and a health-focused breakfast on the patio.”
Fashion Outlets of Chicago
While it’s become the norm for outlet malls to sit far outside town, it’s rare that those locations correspond with equally out-of-the-way airports, as is the case with the Fashion Outlets of Chicago, which opened August 1, 2013, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
“Because of our location, we have some interesting amenities catered toward travelers,” marketing director Jim Anderson said. “You can check your luggage through to your final destination for domestic travel and get your boarding passes. Then it’s only about a five-minute shuttle or cab ride to the airport.”
With a contemporary art program and more than 120 stores running the gamut from Herve Leger to Under Armour, touring and shopping at the outlets can take anywhere from three to six hours. For lunch or dinner, the two on-site restaurants each have small private dining spaces for 25 to 30 people.
“We take a customization approach in regard to groups,” said Anderson.
Personalized shopping tours for small groups, including an explanation of the art program, are popular.
“The Fashion Outlets are really designed to enhance the shopping experience by mixing fashion, food and art,” Anderson said