Editor’s note: Business leaders and local officials involved in the redevelopment of Crossroads Mall into Corridor Plaza present the latest information on the project in a series of occasional articles that will appear in The Messenger. In the following story, Mike Cunningham of Buyers Realty provides insight into the process of recruiting retailers to Fort Dodge as part of the Corridor Plaza project. Buyers Realty owns and manages nearly 2 million square feet of shopping centers and commercial properties.
What does it take to bring national retailers into a market like Fort Dodge? And what types of retailers are recruited? Bringing department stores to town might not be as easy as you think.
“We look at restaurants, textile products, sporting goods and services, among others”, said Mike Cunningham of Buyers Realty, a commercial real estate brokerage firm that specializes in retail leasing on the Corridor Plaza project.
Fort Dodge competes with cities across the United States to attract the attention of retailers looking to expand and lease retail space.
Fort Dodge presents both challenges and advantages in this highly competitive market.
One of the challenges is the geographic and demographic size of Fort Dodge.
“Some retailers may want a population of 100,000 or more in the statistical area,” said Cunningham. “Restaurants have a lot of requirements. It’s our job to justify that we can pull the numbers.
An advantage is already having stores like Hobby Lobby, Target, Kohl’s and Marshalls.
“Having these stores encourages other national retailers to take a look at Fort Dodge,” he said.
Those who buy locally contribute to this process.
“Retailers like to see other stores in town doing well,” said Cunningham. “If they do better than average. If the local population supports the existing trade, it facilitates the recruitment of new ones. The more synergy, the better.
This especially applies to junior box retailers, although every retailer is different. Often they want to group together, three or four at a time.
“Retailers are cautious and very selective on the site,” Cunningham said. “They do a lot of research to decide what type of market they want to enter. They look across the country – competing with cities all over the United States. Some of them have huge growth.
The process takes some time and varies from year to year. A limited number of new stores or restaurants are opened each year, and they can be filled up to a year in advance.
Cunningham said, “Ulta, for example, may be planning to open 50 stores next year, but maybe they’ve already booked them all.”
The number of stores also varies considerably depending on the evolution of the economy.
“COVID has slowed things down, but we’ve seen a decent amount of activity from people wanting to grow,” he said.
Many additional economic considerations play a role in a retailer’s decision to expand, including rising construction costs and labor supply. However, according to Colliers’ report “Clarity and New Reality: Commercial Real Estate Outlook for 2022” released this month, the nationwide vacancy rate has fallen below 5% and is expected to continue falling in 2022. , with store openings exceeding closings.
Retailers can also continue the trend of smaller footprint stores. Colliers’ report noted that some Target stores are opening Ulta “mini-shops” and small Sephora stores added inside select Kohl’s.
The project team said they are currently in discussions with four to six junior box retailers. Junior box retailers typically occupy 10,000 to 30,000 square feet each.
“We talk to new-to-market retailers who haven’t been to Fort Dodge,” said Cunningham. “We had quite a good activity and hopefully in the next two months we can make good progress on the junior part of the centre. It would probably be four to six retailers. This is probably the number of people the project would support based on its size. »
Based on the research conducted to support the proposal to the Iowa Economic Development Authority for funding for the Iowa Reinvestment District, the proposed land uses for the redevelopment of the Crossroads Mall site are reasonable and acceptable by the market.
Research supporting application notes, within a 30 mile radius of the project site, the resident population is estimated at 79,233 people, increasing to 225,270 people within a 45 mile radius and 427,551 people within a 60 mile radius. Stretching beyond 30 miles, Fort Dodge could find competition from other regional centers such as Mason City and Ames.
Vacancy rates are also noted as the lowest in the Fort Dodge retail submarket since 2016, falling to 5% in 2021.
“I think retailers are just being careful and they don’t want to be wrong. We are in competition, said Cunningham.
The Fort Dodge market statistics provided in this article and found in the Iowa Reinvestment District proposal come from CoStar, LoopNet and Johnson Consulting.