Category Archives: Blog

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.

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.

Conscious Place Spotlight – Hillside Village

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Just over a year ago, Trademark began its quest to reinvent Hillside Village. When acquired, it was known as Uptown Village at Cedar Hill, and despite being a young center with a strategic location and top-tier anchor tenants, the Village had experienced years of steady decline in traffic and revenue. Trademark immediately set out to re-brand the center as Hillside Village, a shorter name that more clearly conveys its gardenlike setting, regional topography and upscale atmosphere, while simultaneously working with top research firm Alexander Babbage to intimately understand the demographics and perceptions of the surrounding area.

While the center was originally anchored with compelling tenants, the details and human-level execution were lacking, which meant the project was underperforming relative to its potential. This stuation highlighted an opportunity for the principles of Conscious Place to have a positive impact on measurable performance through enhancements that don’t directly affect traditional revenue channels.

Phase I of work on Hillside Village brought multimillion dollar enhancements primarily aimed at improving the visitor experience. New signage, public art installations, children’s play areas, bocce ball court, and extensive landscaping improvements transformed the built environment while free Wi-Fi and waste reduction initiatives brought increased connectivity and conservation to every corner of the development. With a new name, new amenities, and a new understanding of its surroundings, Hillside Village was prepared to welcome equally new tenants and first-time visitors while offering its core customers a dramatically improved retail experience.

The rapid improvement in identity and ambience at Hillside Village is a testament to the role that ‘intangibles’ play in the making of a Conscious Place. Whether building from the ground up or bringing our core beliefs to an existing project, the power of a people-first, stakeholder-driven approach to redevelopment is impressive. Waste Management recognizes the way small changes conspire to make a big difference and recently named Hillside Village its Cedar Hill Green Business of the Year for 2016.

Trademark’s reputation, re-brand and renovation drove considerable leasing interest to Hillside Village, with H&M’s opening in fall of 2016. Grimaldi’s Pizzeria opens this summer, bringing another top quality operator to the project’s portfolio, while Menchie’s, Claire’s and Hot Topic join the expanding list of national retailers and restaurants that call Hillside Village home.

Less than a year after announcing the rebranding, Hillside Village has experienced remarkable growth and savings. Sales and traffic have increased by over 5% year-over-year while conservation efforts have saved $262,000 worth of precious resources, proving it really is possible to do more with less, even in a world-class retail setting. Visitors recognize the improved ambience and customer-first approach, and retailers have taken notice of the transformation. Trademark has signed and opened over 25,500 square feet of new leases at Hillside Village. Between the public amenities, ongoing conservation efforts, and roster of tenants, Hillside Village has quickly become a rejuvenated community asset and another example of our continued dedication to making every place we work on a conscious member of its community. Watching the public respond favorably to the updates is proof and encouragement that places are far more than the sum of their parts, and we look forward to continuing to share the journey of Conscious Places with you.

Play Areas – Not Just For Kids

consciousplace-logoOne of the key tenets of the Conscious Place is its community amenities. We believe that great places have reach that extends beyond the products that can be purchased in their stores—they touch visitors emotionally by offering inspirational quotes, whimsical art, relaxing spaces, and opportunities for play. Our vision of play extends far beyond a swing set or a see-saw. By blurring the lines between toys and art, we make beautiful spaces that offer something for everyone, kind of like those kids’ movies with a touch of subtle humor inserted for the parents who have to watch them a dozen times, too.

The good news is that Conscious Places don’t have to resort to hidden innuendos and dark humor to make what’s fun for kids tolerable for adults. Instead, we create spaces that are fun for all ages. To us, benefitting stakeholders means much more than a payoff that can be measured on spreadsheets. It means transforming places into escapes from the ordinary that enrich visitors’ lives and allow them to leave feeling better than when they arrived—regardless of what they purchased or how old they are.

We Don’t Grow Old…
There’s that old cliché, “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.” We believe that places can make you smile and make you laugh, that basic amenities can make you feel young at heart. Our Conscious Places feature games like bocce ball, chess, and checkers that offer opportunities for any and every visitor to play. Inspired as much by iconic European plazas as by memories of playing board games with grandparents, the outdoor amenities at Conscious Places bring fundamentally human features back to built environments. And while we may not have found the fountain of youth, we have built dancing ‘pop fountains’ at several projects that provide summertime fun for kids and year-round ambience and animation for all visitors. We encourage people to touch and be touched by every feature of our projects.

The Art of Fun
Remember when you were a kid and art museums seemed boring and full of unnecessary rules like “Don’t touch anything”? We love art and think it should be a fun part of the built environment! Our places are full of interactive sculptures that invite you to pose with them, climb on top of them, and touch them all you want. And with the repurposed carnival rides that renowned artist Bob Wade is turning into one-of-a-kind pieces of art at Waterside, the lines between art and play things are blurring more than ever before. Of course, the art that you can’t play with is important, too. Our obsessive attention to detail conspires to create places that are far more than the sum of their parts. When you visit a Conscious Place, the unique atmosphere is evident everywhere you walk. From carefully selected tenants to artisan benches that are as nice to look at as they are to sit on, every contact point is carefully evaluated to benefit all of our stakeholders.

Water You Waiting For?
We are fortunate to have several unique pieces of property situated near the water. From WestBend and Waterside, located along the Trinity River in Fort Worth, to La Palmera, near the Gulf coast, to Watters Creek in Allen, many of our projects invite the natural world into their cores instead of trying to pave over it. Shaded groves, bocce courts, interactive fountains, kayak rentals, duck ponds, and massive aquariums encourage our visitors to recognize the importance of the land they’re standing on in creative ways. Visiting a Conscious Place might start with a visit to the grocery store, but we believe that the retail shopping experience can be so much more than transactions. When you visit, you’ll leave feeling as if you just visited a park or a unique playground, no atter your age. From a business standpoint, people are more likely to be repeat customers if they leave feeling truly good; that is, with a lasting impact that goes beyond the dated idea of ‘retail therapy.’ We believe that great places are the truest expression of our core values, and providing our visitors with opportunities for inspiration, learning and play is an extension of who we are. After all, we can’t have a ping pong table at the office and not give our stakeholders a chance to have fun, too.

’Tis the Season of Giving


Written by: John M.

The holidays are here, which mean that retail centers across the country are busier than ever. Our Conscious Places are using the high traffic to engage with stakeholders in season-specific ways. Across the country, Trademark’s properties give back in a number of creative manners leading up to Christmas. Here’s a look at a few of the unique holiday events happening at some of our favorite places.

IMG_0778Rice Village

At Rice Village in Houston, several retailers stayed open late and partnering with local wine and catering vendors to offer holiday shoppers a unique experience called “Pour and Explore.” Guests who attended the December 1 event received a gift bag with retailer offers, product samples and a take-home commemorative wine glass. Pop artist Jon Garner showcased original artwork on reclaimed Texas wood. Proceeds from the event benefitted local Houston charity The Children’s Assessment Center, which provides treatment and healing for sexually abused children. By providing space and encouraging charitable cooperation among tenants and local chefs and artists, Rice Village created a unique event that offered a festive night of holiday shopping for a good cause.

La Palmera

La Palmera in Corpus Christi plays host to several Christmas events. Pet Night with Santa provides lighthearted holiday cheer, opening a section of the mall for photos of pets with Santa. Each week’s Pet Night benefits a different local animal organization, providing dog and cat owners with holiday keepsakes and animal rescue groups with visibility and funds.

The Forest of Giving provides a dramatic display of decorated trees inside the mall and offers visitors the opportunity to engage with the display by voting for their favorite. The trees are all decorated by or on behalf of local charities and the winner of the contest receives $1,000 from La Palmera.

Charity Gift Wrap, perhaps the most popular initiative at La Palmera, features representatives from local charities set up in the main level of the mall, where they provide gift-wrapping services in exchange for donations. La Palmera contributes space, visibility, and a direct revenue channel to local charities. Cooperative efforts between the place and all of its stakeholders, including management, retailers, and visitors, characterize the Conscious transformation taking place at Trademark’s properties across the country.

Market Street – The Woodlands

In the Woodlands, Market Street features multiple shops that make Christmas cheer and shopping a charitable and educationalDSC_4090 activity. The recently-opened New Danville boutique is the first retail location for New Danville, a self-sustaining, not-for-profit community that provides work and living opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. At the New Danville storefront, shoppers can purchase home décor and beauty products made by residents of the New Danville community. All proceeds help cover the operating cost of the community, while the storefront raises community awareness of New Danville’s mission.

And, just in time for the holiday season, Market Street opened a popup shop benefitting the Texas Children’s Hospital. The façade and interior were built specifically for Christmas, so the decoration is extra-whimsical and striking. Inside, there is a card-decorating station where visitors can write cards for patients at the hospital, which is slated to open a Woodlands location in 2016. By partnering with the hospital network and bringing its name to a storefront in Market Street, Trademark is strengthening ties with the local heroes who work and are patients at the hospital and creating a bond between the hospital and its surrounding community.

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Merry Christmas

Trademark is honored to partner with organizations that are dedicated to improving their respective communities year-round. As 2015 comes to a close with the frenzy of the holiday season, we encourage our friends and partners to learn about the ways that shopping can have a much larger impact than the simple retail transaction. From education and inspiration to financial impact, our Conscious Places offer ways to make Christmas shopping about much more than last-minute gift purchases. Nonprofit organizations report that a third of their donations occur during the holiday season, including twenty percent in December alone. By harnessing the momentum of the public consciousness, our Conscious Places seek to inspire yearlong engagement by making a difference starting this Christmas. We wish you a Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season, and are excited to share our continuing initiatives with you in 2016.

The Art of The Conscious Place

Written By: John M.

consciousplace-logoConscious Places are dynamic, living collaborations between their stakeholders and the spaces they exist in. Their tenants, amenities, and users all interact with the natural environment to create something far greater than the sum of its parts. One of the ways we concretely demonstrate that symbiosis is through public art that tells the story of the place, its people, and its history while acting as an amenity for visitors.

We approached Texas artist Bob “Daddy-O” Wade with details of the Waterside site and a vision for its transformation into a Conscious Place. When Wade saw the renderings, he knew that the project and its natural amenities are the makings of something great, “The way it appears to me with the architectural concept—with the big oak at the top as it gradually spills down to the water, it’s going to be a gorgeous space.”

Waterside is situated on a stunning location nestled along the banks of the Trinity River, where no aspects of the site’s original use will be visible. In our initial review of the existing structures, we discovered a treasure trove of artifacts left behind from the original General Dynamics recreation center that first occupied the land. Of the artifacts and their future uses, Wade says, “We’ve got a series of pieces that, whether you’re coming up or going down [to the river], you’ll encounter these works that are re-envisioned sculptures built from the original artifacts we found there. They’re important pieces of history from what used to be there. It’s great that the project can be forward thinking enough to do that.” The pieces are a natural fit for Trademark’s first ground-up Conscious Place, and Wade is a natural fit for creating feature art installations from the incredible array of vintage amusement rides and playground equipment.

Wade says of his commission, “It’s great that there are guys like Terry out there who want to make it possible for me to do what I want to do. It takes a few visionaries who really want to be playful to let us make our ideas into reality.” Trademark believes in creating projects that convey the same ethos as Wade’s art—a whimsical reverence for the power of a special place, a built environment that embodies passion and fun, and a finished product that tells a story.

Bob Wade is no stranger to pieces of art with stories, but he’s never built so many installations for one space using only objects derived from its past. “I’m hoping by reconfiguring these things into sculptures, we will have that fun, upbeat energy for the whole site. A lot of contemporary public art reviews try to relate art to its site in terms of scale and the historic moments of that area. This is going to be one of the better examples of that kind of thing. This is going to be real clear—Trademark has saved these things that could’ve easily gotten tossed or sold off to collectors—and has recycled them in a way that can become a fun experience for the public whether they’re shopping, living, or just visiting. In this multipurpose environment, it’s going to be much more successful than something sitting on a street corner or in the middle of some sterile complex somewhere. It’s fun and there’s going to be a lot of life in the art and in the project.”

The Conscious Place is a community-oriented space that encourages engagement with the built and natural environment. It is far more than a place of commerce—it’s a place of community and meaning. Creating new installations with objects from the site’s past is a way to educate and inspire visitors while demonstrating Trademark’s commitment to art and the artisan.

As the artist, Wade, says, “That’s a great story,the old, fabulous place that General Dynamics had. They were pretty forward-thinking themselves. So we’re just updating it and bringing it back to life. So the story continues. That’s all. The story continues!”

We look forward to sharing the story with you.

What’s a Conscious Place?


Written by: John M.

consciousplace-logoAt Trademark, we’re excited to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We’ve been working closely with Whole Foods to bring next-generation placemaking to our projects, which lets us demonstrate our purpose: to be extraordinary stewards, enhance communities, and enrich lives. We seek to build special places, that take into consideration the stakeholders not normally considered in development—that includes our employees, who are seeking purpose in their work, and the users of our projects, who are seeking more than just a place to shop. The result of all our work is the Conscious Place.

Our first project designed from the ground-up incorporating the principles of a Conscious Place, Waterside, will feature community spaces, free amenities, and eco-conscious features like rainwater reclamation and solar charging for electric cars and cell phones. All public aspects of the Conscious Place are free to the user with no requirement to shop or spend money at the surrounding retailers. The end results are feature-laden public spaces that are funded by the private sector, which stems from our belief in the core tenets of Conscious Capitalism.


“Our multi-person solar charging stations combine the low-tech benefit of a community table with the typically-commoditized opportunity to charge your phone or laptop,” Montesi says of the idea behind aRefilling Station WiFi-enabled, plugged-in outdoor area. We can’t force people to unplug, but we can encourage them to share a bench with a stranger and educate themselves about alternative energy. We also provide free chilled, filtered water to encourage the use of reusable water bottles. Friendly reminders and incentives help reinforce other sustainable habits like using reusable shopping bags. One of the goals of a Conscious Place is education and inspiration, and that extends beyond the director visitor benefits. Free solar energy and rainwater landscaping irrigation spark the imagination and start conversations about the ways we can rethink what’s possible. They also reduce the environmental impact of bringing great new places to the communities we build in, which is a demonstration of how we view the environment as one of our stakeholders. Conscious Places care about their neighbors whether they’re on-site or never visit.

MLK QuotesBeyond the built environment, we aim to inspire through blank slates and curated sharing alike. Community message boards, free reservable meeting spaces, and organized events provide a space for public expression, while some of our favorite quotes offer wisdom and inspiration from others. Montesi believes that, “The information station is somewhat disruptive. It is being used to entertain as well as educate and inspire with content such as famous inspiring speeches and classic witticisms.” We gain wisdom from Martin Luther King Jr. and Yogi Berra alike, ultimately aiming to inspire and be inspired by the people who use our spaces. If we can share words that make us think and make us laugh, the Conscious Place becomes an idea that gets taken home when people leave, and that’s the hallmark of an impactful third place.


In the coming weeks, we’ll share more about the ways Conscious Places engage with their communities, from hiring local artists to use found objects for integral artistic and informational displays to the events that take place in the public spaces to the heritage oak trees we relocated. It is our hope that we can collaborate with members of every community to continue to refine what it means for a place to be conscious. Join the conversation and stay tuned for what’s next. We can’t wait to share it with you.