Greenwich commercial property manager orchestrates revival of South Windsor lifestyle center

At a time when many malls are struggling with empty storefronts and fewer retailers to fill those spaces, a mall in Connecticut is experiencing a renaissance.

The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor are making a comeback after more than a decade of uncertainty and the departure of retailers from the centre.

There is construction everywhere in the center of life these days.

At the north end of The Promenade Shops, demolition crews are dismantling a long-vacant grocery store in Highland Park Market and preparing to build a new 50,000 square foot Whole Foods in its place. The new store is expected to open in 2023.

Diagonally opposite this site, movers are at work preparing a previously vacant space in the center for a new Shake Shack which will open by the end of this year.

City manager Michael Maniscalco attributes the center’s rebirth to a change in management which saw Greenwich-based Charter Realty take over management of The Promenade Shops in Evergreen Walk in October 2020. Before Charter took over management of the lifestyle center , it was run by Memphis, Tenn. Poag Shopping Centers, which was responsible for the development of Evergreen Walk.

“People with Charter have really put their boots on the pitch; they’ve had a lot of people here,” Maniscalco said. “In the past, we worked with Poag, which was a national company, and a lot of what we did with them was done over the phone. It’s very different from being able to be on site with the people from Charter, to solve any problems that may arise.

The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk are important to the community, he said, and not just because the lifestyle center is the second highest taxpayer on South Windsor’s most recent big list.

“Evergreen Walk is one of the city’s crown jewels. It put us on the regional map,” Maniscalco said. “And we’re very pleased with the amount of effort and attention that’s been put into it, especially when we’re looking at the standard mall scenario with stores closing or malls closing altogether.”

Maniscalco isn’t alone in thinking what Charter Realty did to Evergreen Walk.

“It wasn’t risky, but it was definitely going in the wrong direction,” Burt Flickinger, managing director of the New York-based Strategic Resource Group, said of Evergreen Walk’s prospects before Charter took over. . “Now you’ll have a more exciting shopping experience that will easily be one of the best in New England.”

Charter operates about four dozen malls in Connecticut. In addition to managing Evergreen Walk, the company is also part of a joint venture that acquired the Blue Back Square mixed-use complex in West Hartford in May 2021.

According to Karen Johnson, Charter Realty’s vice president of development, some of the ongoing construction is the result of store locations associated with serving Whole Foods moving into Evergreen Walk.

Along with demolishing the long-vacant Highland Park Market location at the north end of the lifestyle center to make way for Whole Foods, Johnson said a Japanese restaurant, Sakura Garden and an Old Navy store at that end of Evergreen Walk are being relocated.

Sakura Garden will move to the south end of the Lifestyle Center in a vacant space next to the Connecticut Mattress. The big customer traffic generator at this end of Evergreen Walk is LL Bean.

“We are very happy that they agreed to move,” Johnson said. “It’s a much better location for them and it will allow them to have an expanded dining room.”

Sakura Garden will open in its new location by mid-summer.

Old Navy will also move to a new 21,000 square foot space at the intersection of Tamarack Avenue and Evergreen Way at the south end of the Lifestyle Center. The clothing retailer should be in its new space at the intersection by mid-summer, she said.

The relocation of Sakura Garden and Old Navy will more than free up space for Whole Foods at this end of Evergreen Walk. It will allow the northern end of Evergreen Way, the main road through the lifestyle center, to be extended to connect with a nearby Costco, which opened last November.

To get to Costco from Evergreen Walk currently, shoppers must exit the lifestyle center property and drive a short distance north on busy Buckland Road.

Johnson said the Costco is part of the larger mixed-use complex, but not part of the Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk.

The Promenade Shops are part of a planned development that includes nearly 400,000 square feet of retail as well as commercial and residential space. The development also includes a 200-unit apartment complex, nearly 400 senior and assisted living units and a 110-room Cambria Hotel.

Charter Realty manages the master association for all the parcels of land that make up the complex, according to Johnson. All plots are under separate ownership, she said.

Lifestyle Centers are a retail concept that really took off in the early 2000s. The number of Lifestyle Centers quickly grew from 30 nationwide in 2002 to 120 by the end of 2004 , when Evergreen Walk opened.

The idea behind them is essentially to recreate the town centers of yesteryear, with car parks in front of the shops, which line either side of the main street of the center of life.

Flickinger said Whole Foods is a huge traffic generator for any mall.

“Your typical grocery store generates about 5,000 customers a week,” he said. “This store will generate 25,000 to 30,000 customers per week within a few years after its opening. It’s going to benefit Apple, it’s going to benefit Ben & Jerry’s, it’s going to benefit all the stores in this center.

Joining the supermarket and restaurant will be Goddard School, a private early childhood education center that has more than 500 franchise schools in 37 states and includes 11 locations in Connecticut. A cluster of vacant retail units adjacent to Ted’s Montana Grill in the center of the Promenade Shops will be combined into a 12,670 square foot educational space.

The school’s opening date has not been determined, a spokeswoman said.

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