Randy Danielson is seeing signs that the retail sector, that most sluggish of all the commercial real estate types, is in the early stages of a comeback.
The word “early” might need to be emphasized in that sentence. But a comeback is a comeback.
“Retail is coming back slowly,” said Danielson, director of retail development in the Naperville, Ill., office of developer Ryan Companies. “We are still seeing a lot of existing space being absorbed, but we are also starting to see some of the national tenants becoming more active and aggressive in looking for retail locations.”
For proof of life in the retail sector, Danielson need only look at his own company. Ryan Companies in April started construction on the 50,000-square-foot expansion of Brookside Marketplace, a 500,000-square-foot shopping center in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park.
Ryan Companies’ plans call for construction to wrap up in September.
Three retailers will lease space in the project: Old Navy, which will lease about 15,500 square feet; Five Below, which is leasing about 7,800 square feet; and HomeGoods, which will occupy about 26,500 square feet.
Brookside Marketplace is a good example of the type of retail center that is doing well today. It is anchored by a strong national brand, a 176,000-square-foot SuperTarget store. The center’s other tenants are also strong ones that have performed solidly even during the worst days of the recession: Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Michael’s, PetSmart, Kohl’s, Ulta3 and OfficeMax.
“We have a nice product mix here,” Danielson said. “All of the retailers we have here help solidify us as a nice, unique shopping center. We’re also lucky to have a great location, too. Shoppers can drive through the project with a ring road. It all adds up to a successful center.”
Ryan Companies saw opportunity at the center, Danielson said. And commercial developers don’t succeed today without acting on these opportunities.
“We had some excess land in the Brookside Marketplace project, and we felt that it was important to get some additional retailers to add a bit of new energy to the center,” Danielson said. “We also wanted to create some excitement, not only for the existing retailers there but also for additional retailers who are interested in the center. We wanted to show that this center continues to be active.”