Shopping Centers Today International

NOV 2015

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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customer wants is getting harder: "The consumer is changing," said Dechesne. "They are more mobile — it's easy to go abroad if you want to take a shopping trip to another part of Europe; it's quite easy for more and more people. Not only the shops, but the whole inner city has to be attractive to keep your customers coming and to attract new customers." Multi intends to be making smaller, safer bets in Belgium and the Neth- erlands, and Dechesne says her team will focus mostly on grocery-anchored, smaller retail centers measuring be- tween 5,000 and 10,000 square meters (roughly 54,000 to 108,000 square feet). "We really believe that grocery- anchored centers will at all times be very important — I think there's less risk for that kind of shopping center," she said. "Everybody has to eat, in the end, and wants to have a good supermarket nearby. It's maybe not the most sexy part of the market, but it's very stable." Beyond acquisitions, Dechesne notes two other priorities: completing some of the projects now in the pipe- line, and continuing the evolution of Multi away from being a pure devel- oper — a shift that began three years ago when U.S. equity giant Blackstone pur- chased the company. "I want to make even better the com- bination between asset management and development for our own portfolio," Dechesne said. Being an asset man- ager as well as a developer demands a new point of view, she observes. "The development manager is maybe more focused on architectural design and all that kind of thing, and the asset man- ager is more value-added and financially driven," she said. "You have to be even more focused on the long-term value of a project, because you keep it in your own portfolio. It's more important to look after the profitability and all of the asset- management things than you did when you were only a development company." Dechesne says she likes the broad view her new company tends to take of its work. "They look at design and long- term opportunities," she said, "but on the other hand, they're also opportunity- driven and hands-on." That may, in turn, also be among the qualities Multi saw in Dechesne, who studied urban plan- ning at the University of Amsterdam. And her education in planning still informs the way she approaches urban development. "It gives me a broader perspective of how a city works and how people live in a city," she said, not- ing that this includes the way they shop. "The shopping center, or the shop- ping area, is a part of the inner city, but it's the combination of functions, and especially the public space, that make cities vital," Dechesne said. "It's the combination that makes it work, not only the building of the shopping cen- ter itself." SCT N o v e m b e r 2 0 1 5 / S C T 55 April 10 – 12, 2016 Moon Palace Arena I Cancún, México #REConLA The most important conference for the shopping center industry in Latin America!

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