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Transformation of Retail Real Estate

Changing the Playing Field

The rise of e-commerce and the changing behaviours of consumers around the world prompted the evolution of the retail space in malls and mixed-use destinations. Guests no longer want to visit retail spaces to simply buy a certain product, but to experience something unique. Here, RLI offers a selection of these spaces from across the globe to highlight just what it is that draws customers in.

The landscape of retail real estate has undergone many changes in recent years and this is set to be maintained across 2024, according to Brin Snelling, Forbes Contributor in his article ‘The Trends Reshaping Retail Real Estate In 2024’. He goes on to say that the market has been impacted by evolving consumer preferences and the supply of quality retail, changing the types of tenants driving demand and the types of places supplying it.

In a separate article by Jean Carlos Delgado, Brand and Marketing Director at HyperIn entitled ‘Key Factors Driving Quality at Shopping Centers’, he explains that being a quality player in the shopping centre industry can manifest in various forms – through its ambiance, the mix of retail and entertainment options, sustainability initiatives, mixed-use offerings, or the seamless integration of digital convenience.
He continues by saying that it has become evident that a well-curated and thoughtful selection of tenants creates a vibrant, dynamic environment that attracts a broad spectrum of visitors, ensuring the shopping centre remains a thriving community hub.

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The Ellinikon Mall, Athens, Greece. Developer: LAMDA Development

Finally, in their article, ‘Key Trends to Watch in Retail Real Estate’, Al Williams and Michael Burden, Co-Heads of North America Real Estate Services, discuss four key trends that are influencing the sector. These trends are the continued rise of neighbourhood centres, the transformation of downtown retail, the perfecting of omni-channel innovation and retailers challenging the status quo.

Transformative Projects Around the World
A joint venture between RioCan REIT and Allied Properties REIT, The Well is a bold reflection of Toronto’s energy and diversity and an extension of the urban vibrancy of King West. Bordering Front, Spadina and Wellington, it is a mixture of retail, commercial and residential space in downtown Toronto that will draw approximately 22,000 daily visitors, including the approximately 11,000 residents and employees that will live and work at The Well. The design includes 1.2 million square feet of office space and 320,000sq ft of retail and food service. It has 1,700 residential units spread throughout six residential rentals and condominiums, plus one office building connected to a three-level retail base. At The Well, the idea of liveability is real, with easy access to everything that Toronto demands, expects and deserves: transit, culture, wellness, sustainability, diverse food options, inspiring workplaces and curated entertainment. Scheduled to open in stages through this year, The Well is a choreographed mix of urban experiences, dynamic architecture and interconnected public spaces. The middle of November marked a landmark occasion for The Well, as RioCan REIT celebrated the initial opening of its key phases with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event showcased the near completion state of The Well’s commercial, residential and retail spaces.

Enhancing Montreal’s iconic and ever-evolving composition with a ground-breaking approach to how people work, learn, play and live. The largest private development in Quebec, Royalmount is a densified, mixed-use project, with massive greening, public transit access and a focus on active mobility. It will be a neighbourhood reimagined and a world-class midtown in the heart of Montreal. Under construction by developers Carbonleo and set to open on 15 August, Royalmount is one of the only 100 per cent carbon-neutral mixed-use developments in Canada and will be a never-before-seen living environment where connectivity, creativity, sustainability and technology thrive. Royalmount aims to bring the best brands, experiences and offerings to Quebec. The first phase will consist of an 824,000sq ft indoor and outdoor, two-level retail and lifestyle complex. It will feature retailers, restaurants, experiential attractions, an elevated linear park as well as a 1.8ha urban park. Recently a dozen new retailers have been announced at the scheme and these are Zara, Nike, Moncler, Longchamp, Anine Bing, Mango, H&M, Alo Yoga, Veronica Beard, Canada Goose, Sephora and Roche Bobois.

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Royalmount, Montreal, Canada. Developer: Carbonleo

Serving as a bespoke and captivating cultural destination for Vancouver, Oakridge Park is designed to seamlessly encompass every aspect of people’s lives – where living, working and playing converge harmoniously, offering a space for inspiration, personal growth and relaxation. Spanning over five million square feet and strategically designed around a sprawling nine-acre park, Oakridge Park creates a distinctive enclave within the expansive 28-acre footprint. A monumental redevelopment project that stands out as one of Metro Vancouver’s largest undertakings and ranking among the most significant ongoing transformations in North America, is poised to become an unparalleled addition to the city unlike anything Vancouver has ever seen. Comprising residential, retail, office, public realm, civic and cultural components, Oakridge Park, a joint venture by developers Westbank and Quadreal Property Group, with design and masterplanning work by Henriques Partners Architects, is a world-class, masterplanned community. Once fully completed in 2025, it will offer a top-tier retail experience totalling 850,000sq ft with over 140 leading global brands, including flagship and boutiques stores, accommodations for over 6,000 residents through more than 3,000 residences, 700,000sq ft of meticulously designed office space for over 3,000 creative economy professionals, one of Vancouver’s largest community centres and busiest libraries, six dynamic indoor and outdoor live-music venues, the renowned Goh Ballet and it will be home to the second Time Out Market in Canada.

Back in September last year, the developer Nan Fung Group launched AIRSIDE, its 1.9 million square foot, 47-storey mixed-use development in Hong Kong’s Kai Tak. The 700,000sq ft mall offers an extensive mix of premium tenants, including home-grown brands, international cuisines and experiential retail. A 25,000sq ft City’Super store joins Muji among other retail anchors, in addition to around 40 F&B outlets and world-class entertainment, such as Hong Kong’s first large-scale indoor surfing centre. A new MCL Cinema spanning over 30,000sq ft and comprising seven cinema houses, can accommodate up to 900 movie-goers. The development also features a pet-friendly hub. Renowned architecture firm Snøhetta is behind the design, drawing inspiration from the intense fusion of natural elements, historic structure and contemporary urban spaces in Hong Kong. Set atop the Kai Tak MTR station, the design extends the urban landscape into the architecture itself, creating direct access between pedestrian transit areas and retail spaces at the tower’s base and elevated garden landscapes.

K11 Group has unveiled a new harbour front cultural retail destination in Shenzhen dubbed K11 Ecoast, a flagship for its Mainland China expansion plan. The US$1.4bn project, located in Prince Bay, is scheduled to open at the end of 2024. It is jointly developed by K11’s parent company New World Development Company and China Merchants Shekou Holdings. The development will have a GFA of 228,500sq m, featuring a K11 Art Mall, K11 HACC multi-purpose art space, K11 Atelier office building, and a Promenade. K11 Ecoast was designed and constructed in accordance with China’s 14th five-year plan national guidelines, using renewable energy, recyclable materials, and hospital-grade air filtering systems. The development includes a 60,000sqm outdoor landscaping, the largest among all K11 projects.

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Crystal Gallery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Developer: Midad Real Estate Investment and Development Company

Global real estate company Hines has revealed plans to build and operate a 74-storey mixed-use tower in Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city. Called the Global Quantum Complex, the $1bn project will house the nation’s first quantum computing R&D hub, as well as next-generation offices and space for education, retail and residential offerings. The development in Busan’s Haeun-dae district will span more than 180,000sq m and will be one of South Korea’s five tallest towers upon completion. Architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is designing the project as a “vertical city” which is expected to generate $3.6bn in economic value and create 18,000 jobs in and around Busan. Construction of the Global Quantum Complex will begin in 2024 and complete in 2027, with the finished structure incorporating sustainability features to comply with South Korea’s 2030 carbon reduction goals.

Currently under construction by developers Apsys Group and with an estimated opening date of September this year, the Neyrpic scheme is located in the town of Saint-Martin-d’Hères opposite the Town Hall, a few minutes from downtown Grenoble and is part of a vast urban renewal project. Neyrpic aims to provide the municipality with attractive living, leisure and sharing spaces and to contribute to its economic development, in respect for the major metropolitan balances, the history of old factories and the requirements of the ecological transition. Designed as an energetic, multi-functional place where commerce, leisure, sport and nature will be inextricably linked. The heart of the project is an external square with spacious terraces – places for relaxation and fun. A place designed and implemented in accordance with the idea of sustainable development, respecting the character of the place and offering added value to the city’s residents.

The largest city-centre project in Europe, Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier is set to become a new urban community hotspot in Germany. Encompassing a unique culture, leisure, entertainment and dining offer, it will feature a 10-screen flagship cinema, beauty and wellness centres, international and local restaurants, bars and cafés and the latest trends in entertainment technology. This mixed-use urban district will feature flexible offices with 360° views over HafenCity and the harbour, modern apartments with direct access to the waterfront, three hotels and a 200-store shopping centre offering the best local and international brands together with a wide range of services and digital innovations, for an enhanced customer journey. The shopping centre itself will span 80,500sq m of retail, leisure and restaurant space and it is set to open in August 2024 by developers Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. The scheme will expand the Hamburg City metropolitan area by 40 per cent and the proportion of public and publicly accessible private open spaces is 38 per cent.

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Neyrpic, Grenoble, France. Developer: Apsys GrouP

The Ellinikon Mall – the new state-of-the-art commercial, leisure and business destination will extend to more than 125,500sq m on Vouliagmenis Avenue. This project will consist of the largest mall in Greece and a next generation retail park with big-box stores. Right next to it, one of the largest coastal parks in Europe, The Ellinikon Park, will be developed. This is a pioneering ecosystem introducing a new lifestyle philosophy in shopping, entertainment, and leisure. The project takes full advantage of its adjacency to infrastructure where subways and roads intersect to provide ease of transport to this new urban hub. There are excellent multi-level pedestrian connections to the surrounding mixed commercial and residential buildings, which have an immediate high-density population within walking distance. Developed by LAMDA Development, the seamless circulation design of the mall maximises the synergies between different but complementary uses, offerings, and experiences so that the transition between indoor mall and outdoor streetscape becomes a commercial opportunity to provide alfresco dining and external play areas – all responding to the local climate, modern Athenian family and international tourist needs.

The Elephant and Castle Town Centre redevelopment is one of Central London’s largest regeneration projects. The town centre is being brought forward in three main phases. The first phase of development at Elephant and Castle opened in 2017 and is managed by Get Living. Elephant Central incorporates 374 homes for rent alongside 278 student studios, across three buildings. Retail and leisure within the first phase includes a supermarket, a gym, a nursery and independent retailers. The second phase is currently underway and focuses on the comprehensive redevelopment of the former Elephant and Castle shopping centre into a new town centre that will serve as the hub and focal point of the local community. With Multiplex now appointed, the second phase construction is targeted to complete in 2026. The third and final phase will be delivered on the existing London College of Communication, UAL site following their move into their new campus. This phase will provide a further 498 new homes (333 market rent, 49 affordable rent and 116 social rent) as well as retail space and a 500-person capacity cultural venue.

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Oakridge Park, Vancouver, Canada Developers: Quadreal Property Group & Westbank

A new project by developer British Land, Canada Water is set to be the first new town centre in London in 50 years: a truly mixed-use new urban centre, built for the future. Over the next twelve years, the 53 acre masterplan will deliver a new high street and town square. Up to 3,000 new net zero carbon homes and two million square feet of workspace accommodating 20,000 workers. A new leisure centre, with swimming pools, sports courts and gym will be included and 35 per cent of the masterplan will be public open space – that’s 16 extra acres of parks and places to pause and relax. In addition, over 650,000sq ft of space will be dedicated to retail and leisure space, with a new high street and town square. The project is set to not only preserve, but enhance all of the local history, character and biodiversity that are already here, it is the UK’s most sustainable regeneration scheme.

An upcoming project by Developer Emaar Properties is Dubai Square, which is set to become one of the world’s most advanced developments, using AI for the design, construction and creating ‘unique’ personalised customer experiences. According to Emaar, Dubai Square is a residential, hospitality and retail city that will boast 10,000 residential units, over 1,500 hotel rooms and a retail district that is approximately the size of The Dubai Mall. Dubai Square will be facing the iconic Dubai Creek Tower and the Dubai Creek Plaza. The projects will be connected through a cutting-edge underground extension. The new development is heavily focused on family entertainment, with free live shows at the futuristic Grand Plaza. A dedicated art district, technologically enhanced Ice Adventure and a rooftop waterpark are also planned. Emaar is planning to complete both the new landmark Creek Tower and the Dubai Square project at the same time in 2027.

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Porta Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Developer: Al Akaria 3

Saudi Arabia’s Porta Jeddah has been unveiled by UK-based architect, Chapman Taylor. The 120,000sq m GBA Porta Jeddah, on behalf of developer Al Akaria, will become “an iconic landmark in the city”. The development will comprise of many offerings for visitors such as a wide variety of retail, F&B and leisure options, a 230-key lifestyle hotel and workplace amenities and is inspired by Saudi Arabia’s rich cultural heritage, the design of the development features elements of Jeddah, such as the Makkah gate, the old port, Al Balad and the Palace Gardens. Porta Jeddah will feature a central plaza “with a concept based on a journey through a sequence of themed plazas that are infused by the characteristics of Jeddah”. The garden plaza will offer visitors many dining options within a beautiful landscape setting, while the water plaza will comprise of retail experiences including dancing fountains and interactive sculptures. In addition the entertainment plaza will host a range of leisure activities centred on an amphitheatre for social engagement and events. An opening date has not yet been revealed but construction is underway as of the beginning of this year.

Introducing a captivating architectural landmark that redefines Jeddah’s cultural heritage with a contemporary interpretation, the visionary design of the Crystal Gallery project in Riyadh envisions a retail experience that is truly exceptional, setting the stage for a streetscape like no other. With open spaces, carefully tailored building massing and enchanting green areas, a remarkable F&B district awaits, where charm and uniqueness converge to create an unparalleled atmosphere. Sustainability and comfort take centre stage as this project embraces landscape strategies that enhance the overall ambiance. Every detail has been meticulously crafted, showcasing thoughtfully tailored terraces that offer an array of beautiful views, each one unique and captivating. The project, which does not have a completion date at the moment, is being developed by Midad Real Estate Investment and Development Company with design work by Concept i.

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AIRSIDE, Kai Tak, Hong Kong. Developer: Nan Fung Group

Back in May last year, the VIA Riyadh project was unveiled by developer Takamul Project Management Company and became a new addition to Saudi Arabia’s entertainment and tourism portfolio. Representing a new era of luxury, the luxurious destination marks a significant milestone in Saudi Arabia’s journey to enhance its entertainment offerings. VIA Riyadh is situated near the Diplomatic Quarter and the development intermingles iconic names, from the globally renowned St. Regis hotel, to resplendent designer brand stores and top-level restaurants, to the Renaissance cinema that offers lavish levels of comfort and exclusivity. An architectural masterpiece inspired by the Salmani architecture and urban style, VIA Riyadh was designed to work in perfect harmony with the local identity of the capital, preserving the unique identity of the city.