Monthly Archives: January 2017

Consciously Enhancing Communities

Community is at the very core of Conscious Place. We believe that good places become great because they are an active part of the community – they celebrate what makes it unique, they offer a gathering place, and they continually work to provide services that benefit the greater good.

To create this kind of special place, the “if you build it, they will come” mentality won’t work, which is why collaborating with community members is a critical part of our Conscious Place development model. How can you truly meet stakeholders’ needs if you don’t take the time to step back, listen, and get to know them first?

Recently, we celebrated the grand opening of Waterside, our first ground-up Conscious Place. It was a proud moment for us to see the concept of Conscious Place come to life. When you look around Waterside, much of what makes it unique is a direct result of this inclusive listening process.

Back in 2013, during early planning, we gathered a group of community members to tell them about our concept and ask for their feedback – their likes and dislikes, concerns, favorite tenants, and preferred amenities. What we found helped to shape every decision from there forward.

There was a resounding call for local elements, which became a central theme of our development plan. As a result, many of the details that help make Waterside unique were specially crafted by local artisans, like the benches, chalkboard and colorful Adirondack chairs. Art was also a popular request, which ultimately resulted in a curated public art program, as well as a special eye to architecture and design.

The community also voiced their nostalgia about the site itself. As the Lockheed Martin Recreation Association, the property had served as a community activity facility which hosted everything from movie nights to soccer tournaments. Fusing the feedback for local, artisan, and historic elements, we commissioned Texas artist, Bob “Daddy-O” Wade, to create public art made from repurposed amusement rides, playground equipment and art from the original site.

We also found that the community valued sustainability and preserving the site’s natural beauty. The Grove, our signature public space, is designed around several heritage oak trees. In addition to conscious amenities like a community pavilion and Trinity Trail connectivity, The Grove also includes a 6,600-gallon rainwater cistern used to irrigate drought-resistant landscaping. Whole Foods used reclaimed wood from the LMRA – originally a ballroom floor – throughout its store, a nod to the site history and the sustainability initiatives.

Leasing efforts were also influenced by this community feedback. A specialty grocer was the top request. As a result, we presented this opportunity to Whole Foods, who ultimately opened its first Fort Worth store at Waterside. REI and Sur La Table were also called out by name during feedback sessions. Responding to the call for local, as well as suggestions to make retail lease space cost effective for small local businesses, we created a micro-restaurant program, which supports local entrepreneurs by offering smaller spaces, lower startup costs, shorter-term leases, and community seating in The Grove.

The community promotion shed provides opportunities for people to gather and give back. This covered, outdoor space is available for reservation so that local groups and nonprofits can fundraise and grow their presence in the community.

These are just some of the things we’ve done with the goal of positioning Waterside to be an integral part of the community for years to come. We hope that those who experience Waterside leave feeling that it is a special place, and we hope they visit often. As we expand Conscious Place, we look forward to learning what makes other communities unique and working with them to create an equally special, uniquely different place to inspire, educate, and engage all stakeholders.

Shopping Centers “Sell” Experiences To Attract Customers

Written by: Gilma Avalos

NORTH TEXAS (CBS11) – At a time when traditional anchor stores like Macy’s are closing locations across the country and customers are turning to the convenience of online shopping, store owners and developers are starting to think outside of the retail box.

Customers are no longer just interested in buying goods, said Edward Manuel, Senior Vice President of Development for Trademark Property. He said they want experiences.

“We are in the middle of an experience-driven economy,” said Manuel.

To avoid the demise of the traditional mall, modern shopping centers and developers must adapt to an evolving customer.

“Everything we do is surrounded around creating experiences,” he explained.

Trademark Property is behind Fort Worth’s new Waterside open-air shopping center.

It boasts anchor stores like Whole Foods Market and REI.

The 63-acre mixed use development also has amenities centered around providing experiences.

Tucked behind Taco Diner and Whole Foods Market is The Grove, a public space meant for everyone–not just shoppers–to enjoy.

There are corn hole toss boards and bocce ball courts. A community pavilion, invites people to sit back, watch a game on a big flat screen TV, meet friends, or sip on a beverage.

“It’s very inviting [there are] lots of places to sit and relax,” said Isaac Towne, who often spends lunch breaks at The Grove.

On a sunny afternoon, he enjoyed a buttermilk popsicle from Steel City Pops, and a good book. But he says he doesn’t feel any pressure to shop.

The park is dotted by creations from Austin artist Bob “Daddy-O” Wade, which honor the area’s history.

“These were old children’s play equipment from the Lockheed Martin Recreation Association days,” said Manuel.

Experiences are also on the menu inside Waterside’s restaurants and shops.

“Dining is much more than just eating. It’s about a total experience,” said Chef Marcus Paslay.

His new restaurant, Piattello Italian Kitchen, features a coffee bar and an open air kitchen.

“You can sit at the pizza bar here and watch them make your pizza, put it in the oven, bring it out and it goes right out to you,” he said.

Diners get a peek behind the scenes as the team prepares food on a busy kitchen island.

“A lot of the stuff that happens in the back of the house at other restaurants, we brought into the dining room, just to create more theater, more energy inside of the dining room,” said Paslay.

“Brick and mortar will never go away,” said Manuel. “The more experiences you can create, the more you can connect with people on an emotional level.”

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How North Texas’ Brick-And-Mortar Shops Are Attracting Customers

D Magazine
Written by: Steve Kaskovich

The fastest-growing retailer in North Texas doesn’t have any stores. Meanwhile, shopping centers are pouring money into atmosphere and amenities, knowing that it takes more than a department store and a parking lot to attract people. This new e-commerce world is bringing remarkable convenience and massive disruption. Enclosed malls are out, smartphones are in, and the retail landscape in Dallas-Fort Worth is shifting before our very eyes.

Thank (or blame) Amazon for this revolution. The Seattle-based online juggernaut has shown the world that you can buy almost anything without leaving home and seems bent on moving into virtually every category. In recent years, it has built a major presence in Dallas-Fort Worth, opening four massive fulfillment centers, hiring several thousand workers, and launching its AmazonFresh service to challenge our abundance of supermarkets.

Still, this online onslaught doesn’t mean the end of traditional stores. Rather, it has spurred a ground war, prompting retailers and developers to be more creative in luring shoppers and winning their dollars. A new way of thinking is on display in southwest Fort Worth at the Waterside development, which opened last fall along Bryant Irvin Road. Developed by Trademark Property, the open-air shopping center is anchored not only by Whole Foods and REI, but by a cozy community space between the stores called The Grove, where shoppers can sit on Adirondack chairs beneath century-old oak trees, take a selfie, get coffee, aand stroll down to the trails on the Trinity River.

“Compelling public spaces are one of the new anchors in retail development,” says Terry Montesi, CEO of Trademark.

Montesi calls Waterside a “conscious place,” which seeks to tap into the emotions of consumers by adding something special for the community. As another attraction, Waterside has cut a deal with a museum to exhibit photographs from its collection.

“We endeavor to connect with people on a deeper level,” Montesi says. “We want people’s subconscious telling them that they feel loved and cared for and served when they go to Waterside.”

While new shopping centers like Waterside are great, there aren’t nearly as many being built as in the past—and almost no malls. Dallas-Fort Worth was expected to add about 2 million square feet of retail space in 2016, which is near historic lows, according to The Weitzman Group. In the early 2000s, DFW was adding as much as 10 million square feet a year. One benefit: retail occupancy is around 92 percent, the highest level since 1984. “There’s virtually no spec building right now, which is a good thing,” said Marshall Mills, Weitzman’s president and CEO. “We’re not seeing centers going up on every corner, thank goodness.”

And that’s despite continued strong population and job growth. While a few new centers continue to be built in hot growth areas, like Legacy West in Plano near the new Toyota campus, more developers are focused on renovating older spaces and attracting unconventional tenants. Mills points to WinCo Foods, the deep-discount grocer that entered the region two years ago and now has nine locations. It has sprouted in a number of abandoned retail sites including a former Sports Authority in Arlington as well as a space at the Irving Mall.

Other malls are working hard to avoid the fate of places like Valley View Center, which is targeted for redevelopment. Department store anchors are struggling, more from the hollowing out of the middle class and expansion of discount rivals rather than the internet, according to John McNellis, a veteran California developer who spoke in Dallas recently at a conference.

In West Fort Worth, Ridgmar Mall is undergoing a reinvention. Macy’s shut its doors last year and, in early 2017, Neiman Marcus will close and move to the new Shops at Clearfork. Clearfork, a Simons Property Group project, targets high-end brands like Tiffany’s and Louis Vuitton as well as destination restaurants like Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen and Rise No. 1.

Some are already calling it the NorthPark of Fort Worth, but there’s an important distinction. It will be an open-air center, not an enclosed mall, and there will be nightlife options such as a high-end bowling center with bocce ball. In other words, stuff you can’t do on the internet. 

Steve Kaskovich is the deputy managing editor of business for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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Five Questions with Piattello Italian Kitchen

Chef Marcus Paslay, executive chef & owner of Fort Worth-favorite Clay Pigeon, recently opened his much anticipated second restaurant, Piattello Italian Kitchen at Waterside. Here, he talks about menu favorites, his philosophy when it comes to food, and how to stand out in the Fort Worth dining scene.

Q: What makes Piattello different from other Italian restaurants?

A: Piattello is set apart by the fresh pastas made every day in house and served al dente as they are in Italy. Our commitment to quality ingredients prepared from scratch, at a price point that is very approachable, is another way Piattello stands out.

Q: If you’re eating all of your meals for the day at Piattello, what are you ordering?

A: Morning: Cappuccino and Lemon Ricotta muffin

Lunch: Sausage Pizza, Chop Salad and a cold beer

Dinner: Some marinated olives and a plate of house ricotta and sourdough for the table to share. Then, I am going to start with the Crispy Calamari, followed by any one of our housemade pasta dishes paired with an Italian wine and finish up with a coffee and a cookie plate.

Q: How do you stay true to your cooking philosophy of serving seasonal, fresh food?

A: We will change the menu four times a year, rotating the current season’s bounty into our dishes. All food is made from scratch and in house, which will ensure those ingredients stay as fresh as possible.

Q: What makes the Fort Worth dining scene unique?

A: Its uniqueness is in the timing. Fort Worth is experiencing a mini restaurant revolution. The standard for quality is rising and the restaurants are getting better and more diverse. It’s a fun time to be doing what we are doing, and I am pumped about the trend I see in our dining landscape. If one were to take a snapshot of the dining scene 5 years ago and compare it to one 5 years from now, I believe you will see this restaurant revolution I’m talking about.

Q: Why was Waterside the right place to open Piattello?

A: Waterside was right for Piattello for two reasons. The first is the location. We are very excited with what we are seeing in this area of Fort Worth and confident that its growth will provide substantial traffic. The second is the leadership of the development. Trademark has a vision for Waterside and conscientious mind that we whole heartedly agree with. Any developer that can create a beautiful property that brings business, residences, jobs, tax revenue and has enough consciousness to save (at great cost) trees that have been here for longer than any of us have been alive is a developer that we can be proud to partner with.

Find out more about Waterside.

Rice Village reworks parking plan, changes to start next month

Houston Business Journal
Written by: Olivia Pulsinelli

Rice Village District, a shopping district that’s been undergoing renovations, will launch a new parking plan in February that incorporates some suggestions from a 2015 study about the area.

Changes include switching the location of the area’s free and low-cost parking. Storefront parking will be metered, starting at $1 for the first hour, to help maintain the availability of storefront parking at all times. Rice Village District, which is managed by Trademark Property Co., is switching to storefront meters in coordination with Lamesa Properties, which also manages retail properties in Rice Village.

Meanwhile, Rice Village District’s free parking spaces will increase by 36 percent. Customers will be able to park for free for up to two hours in Rice Village District’s central parking garage and rooftop parking area. (See map below.)

New signage will direct shoppers to the free parking areas, and uniformed parking ambassadors will be available to help shoppers operate meters in the storefront spaces. A portion of the proceeds from the meters will go toward a community Spark Park at nearby Roberts Elementary and the Poe Elementary PTO.

The Parking Advisory Group, based in The Woodlands, served as a consultant to Rice Village District on the new parking plan, which is modeled after several other shopping and dining destinations.

“By optimizing the location and management of Rice Village’s free and paid parking areas, we have created convenient and cost-effective parking solutions for those looking to shop at a particular store as well as for those looking to shop, dine and stay for an extended period of time,” Jerry Marcus, the group’s president, said in a press release.

In 2015, Rice University’s Kinder Institute released a study about Rice Village’s parking problems and related traffic congestion.

According to the study, the area has had a sufficient total number of parking spaces, but the confusing nature of those spots and the difficulty of accessing them was the root of the problem. The study noted little-used private garages, an uncoordinated system of free and paid parking without clear signage to let people know which is which, and area employees without access to dedicated parking spaces as contributing factors.

Some of the study’s suggestions included adding meters to street parking and installing technology that would help drivers know where available spaces are.

Meanwhile, Fort Worth-based Trademark Property has been overseeing a multimillion-dollar renovation of Rice Village District since 2015. In addition to the new parking plan, other changes include improvements to the buildings’ exteriors, new outdoor seating, landscaping and sidewalk improvements to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

The district also will add public art installations, such as a new mural from Houston artist Mario Enrique Figueroa Jr., better known as GONZO247.

Several new tenants have also been announced for Rice Village.

Austin-based Hopdoddy Burger Bar will take over a space at 5510 Morningside Drive that Baker Street Pub & Grill vacated last year. New York-based Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE: SHAK) also plans to open its second Houston location in Rice Village, taking over the La Madeleine cafe at the corner of Kirby Drive and Amherst Street. Hopdoddy is expected to open in February, and Shake Shack should open by the end of this year.

Austin-based boutique Beehive and Nao Ramen House also opened in Rice Village late last year. Longtime restaurant Hungry’s completed its expansion project with the opening of its new second-story bar and lounge area on New Year’s Eve.

Most recently, the Rice Village District announces its longtime Starbucks at 2520 University Blvd. would close and reopen in a bigger location at 2531 Amherst St. this fall.

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