Shopping Centers Today

JUL 2018

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

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J U L Y 2 0 1 8 / S C T 15 production, and stone is a nod to the nearby mountains. General managers will not be expected to spend all their time sta- tioned in center court, Conforti says; they will continue to walk the prop- erty on a regular basis and to have access to traditional offices when they need to work without distractions on such tasks as budgeting. But the new workstations will remain part of the firm's commitment to a new management approach. "How dare we sit in mall-management offices or ivory tower [corporate] offices," said Conforti, "when this is the most inter- active business on the planet?" Indeed, Conforti, who took office as CEO of Washington Prime in 2016, has long been outspoken about the need for the retail real estate industry to become more proactive. He has worked with a handful of general managers on a plan for empower- ing and incentivizing managers to engage more deeply with the prop- erties they oversee. The Hub initia- tive is one aspect of this plan, called the Goodwill Ambassador General Manager Program. "I want my general managers to think and operate like the CEOs of companies," Conforti said. He points out that general man- agers are responsible for assets that make a substantial economic impact at the local level. In addition to moving general managers out of the back office and onto center court, Washington Prime now expects that they will play a bigger role in identifying exciting retail and restaurant concepts and sponsorship opportunities, Conforti says. "Our leasing professionals are great, but they don't necessarily know what's happening in Memphis or Johnson City," he said. "You have to be immersed in the community." Mall managers must live locally, he insists, if they are to be plugged into what is happening locally. Conforti is especially bullish on what he calls "common-area acti- vation" opportunities: freestanding eateries, brand showcases and other concepts that engage shoppers as they move through a property. The Hub workstations will serve to liven up common areas in a similar way, he says. And during those times when the stations are not being actively staffed, Conforti suggests, they can be used alternatively for special exhibits and events. "The Holy Grail of this industry is common-area activation," he said. "The Hub is really yet another form of common-area activation." n Landlord campaign warns about hot-car deaths F our retail landlords — CBL Properties, GGP, Macerich and Simon — have teamed up with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to produce a public-service ad campaign reminding shoppers not to leave children and pets inside parked cars during the summer. When the temperature outside reaches 78 degrees Fahrenheit, it can exceed 100 degrees inside a car if the windows are left closed, and each year children and pets die as a result. The landlords will post signs and run public- service announcements. n Washington Prime Group regional marketing manager Shelley Sloan staffs the Hub desk at Melbourne (Fla.) Square Mall

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