BCRA Insights

Back to blog

June 3, 2019

Retail Centers: From the Ground Up

By Erin Knuth

Have you ever wondered how a retail center comes to be?

We believe that a great retail center can elevate the experience of purchasing goods and services. Successful retail centers focus on placemaking – creating spaces that draw people in and encourage them to linger. Developers can focus on a good tenant mix to help achieve this goal, while designers look at features like parking, accessible pathways between buildings, attractive plantings, places to sit, and the sense of safety through lighting and sightlines, to encourage people to stay in the center.

The process starts with a vision that meets a community need in a creative and collaborative way. Often, a civil engineering or architectural design partner helps to determine the feasibility of the vision on a specific piece of property. If the selected property can accommodate the goals of the project and achieves the required square footage while meeting all the local jurisdictional requirements, the team can move forward with concepts for the site and buildings.

Site challenges are often identified at this stage. These can include sensitive areas, like wetland buffers and soil issues, such as drainage capacity or contamination. Balancing the size of the development with parking requirements is another common challenge. Jurisdictions can partner to help solve issues quickly so the project can move forward, as retail centers often bring needed services and boost local economies.

As challenges are mitigated, design of the site and buildings continues to be developed. Major tenants, who bring their own needs and requirements, are brought in before or at this stage. For Pioneer Crossing in Puyallup, Safeway was identified as the anchor, tenant. With an established brand like Safeway, the architectural team will design to established guidelines as required by the tenant, so the new building is recognizable as part of the Safeway brand. Accessory buildings take cues from the anchor building but have their own unique look and feel. Pioneer Crossing’s other retail buildings reflect Safeway’s more modern look.

Approaching retail centers holistically while still meeting budgetary needs is something an experienced, multidisciplinary design team can assist with. The benefit to developers is flexible, leasable spaces that will attract and retain tenants. Underlining all the steps of the process are the people who will work, shop, and dine at the retail center. The benefit to visitors is a connected center that meets multiple needs. At Pioneer Crossing, covered and uncovered outdoor seating provide outdoor connections and places to relax between errands. Pioneer Crossing will open for tenants and guests in Fall 2019.