Watch this space … Dulles Town Center under new management

By Andrea Gaines

We all know that delicious and exciting, “Yeah! I’m free! Let’s go shopping!” feeling.

We’ve cleared our busy schedule … or maybe taken the day off.
We’ve had a nice, long walk and have worked up a real appetite.

Our minds are racing with anticipation … to take advantage of that great big sale we just saw advertised, to take a look at the new shipment of merchandise at our favorite store, or buy something specific … or browse … unrestrained by time and our daily worries.

The thrill of a trip to the mall is still with us

Despite all of the changes in how and when we shop, one thing never leaves us: the need to get away for a few hours and have some fun.

Centennial, an investment firm with a portfolio of shopping, dining, entertainment, and mixed-use “destinations” across the country, knows this feeling quite well.

Centennial Advisory Services, the company’s third-party property and asset management division, has been awarded the management contract for the Dulles Town Center.

 According to a Centennial press release, the company “will provide a full spectrum of management, leasing, marketing and accounting services for Dulles Town Center,” including what it calls “a value creation strategy with the potential for a future mixed-use redevelopment of the property.

Malls have changed a lot in recent years.

But, that change didn’t occur by accident. It occurred because companies like Centennial – a team that has stoked-the-retail-fires for more than half a century now – has the ability to make great things happen. You want it? We got it! That’s the way they get things done.

The Dulles Town Center’s Loudoun County link

“We’re honored that Centennial has been selected to manage a property in such a vibrant and high-growth location,” says Whitney Livingston, COO of Centennial.

“At Centennial Advisory Services, we specialize in transforming shopping centers into redefined spaces well-suited to the lifestyle of tomorrow’s consumers – something we look forward to doing at Dulles Town Center as well.”

In that recent press release, Centennial also said: “From strategic merchandising plans to an experience blueprint, innovative experiential marketing and customized place-making solutions, Centennial has a unique vision for the future of retail real estate that has led to the successful repositioning and redevelopment of retail properties in key markets from coast to coast.
  “The robust services platform Centennial has built perfectly positions the firm to help retail real estate owners navigate today’s complex post-COVID recovery period while also planning for future value creation.”

Said Chuck Taylor, Senior Vice President, Client Services, Centennial Advisory Services, “Centennial is a thought leader with extensive experience in asset management and transformation within the retail real estate market, which is why shopping center owners and developers in top markets throughout the country are entrusting their property management to our dedicated Advisory Services team … we will be working hand-in-hand with the shopping center’s existing tenants to help them through the difficulties COVID has posed, and to institute a new hospitality-themed focus and customer experience that we expect will ultimately attract new tenants to the property … ”

Dulles Town Center is Loudoun County’s only super-regional mall. The center includes more than 160 fine stores and restaurants featuring Macy’s, JC Penney, LA Fitness, Regal Dulles Town Center 10 Cinemas, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Sears. The two-level center features a dominant selection of highly desired national brand names including Forever 21, H&M, The Cheesecake Factory, Ann Taylor, Pink, Bare Minerals, Banana Republic, Francesca’s, Pandora, Victoria’s Secret, Hollister, LOFT, Abercrombie & Fitch, and more.

Welcome, change

People in the know are very clear that there is a transformation taking place in this industry. Shoppers and consumers are changing and the places they go for goods and services are changing, too.

Livingston explained the company’s point-of-view on this issue: “Top-level industry insiders have been asking about the future of retail now more than ever before. We all knew there would be a shakeup over time. The industry is overbuilt, and changing consumer demands require retailers to innovate, something some retailers simply can’t do in time to remain at the top of their game. Now, however, COVID-19 is creating an expedited version of Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ theory in the retail industry.

“So, while there absolutely will be financial fall-out from temporary shopping center and retailer COVID-19 shut-downs, we feel confident the retail industry as a whole will rebound. And, when the smoke clears, malls and retailers with the vision to deliver what consumers want will not only survive, but thrive.”

Centennial: retail – and change – run through their veins

Rooted in retail since 1997, Centennial is focused on shaping the evolution of American retail by creating a superior multi-faceted shopping experience.

The website www.Centennial REC.com lauds the company’s “50 Years of Real Estate Heritage,” and highlights “7 Dominant Properties in 6 States,” “7.3 Million Square Feet tailored to Communities,” and “1,144 Retail Partners.”

The company’s CEO, Steven Levin, is immersed in what the website describes as “the joys and nuances of retail.” Levin took his father’s “value-priced women’s store” (Margie’s, founded in 1953), and grew it into “60 stores throughout the Southwest …

“Drawing from an authentic heritage and a retailer’s perspective, Centennial has the expertise and desire to create modern, community-centric destinations for the next generation,” notes the website.

Centennial’s portfolio includes Brazos Mall in Lake Jackson, Texas, Connecticut Post Mall in Milford, Connecticut, Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, Illinois, Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, Illinois, MainPlace Mall in Santa Ana, California, Pueblo Mall in Pueblo, Colorado, and Vancouver Mall in Vancouver, Washington.

Centennial also likes to highlight its popular SEE Centennial sustainability/efficiency environmental program. “At Centennial,” says the company, “we believe the next evolution of a shopping center is a greener one. Our commitment to being a responsible community member drives us to understand and positively influence our ecological footprint …
“ … In order to live our values, we’ve developed an internal sustainability roadmap, branded as SEE Centennial. With a focus on Sustainability, Efficiency and the Environment, it guides how we approach new projects and manage our existing properties day-to-day.

Looking Forward

While Centennial is in the very beginning stages of developing a future Dulles Town Center plan, it will likely re-purpose some underperforming retail space with complementary mixed uses, as it has done successfully with its own properties nationwide.

One of the hallmarks of Centennial’s success has been the ability to envision what’s possible for a property, and to create an action plan that will help transform the asset into an even more dominant player in its market. Dulles Town Center is in a stellar location that is convenient for people to visit while in the Washington area, and it has long served the area well.

Centennial also knows that, while Dulles Town Center is poised for growth, that growth depends on re-imagining a future that appeals to the lifestyle of tomorrow’s shoppers. That’s Centennial’s specialty – it’s what this company does best, and it’s why it was hired for the job.

Said Livingston, the Dulles Town Center endeavor is a “special project” for her company. “It’s a really exceptional location,” she continued, “one of a kind,” and everyone is “committed to create something that matches its uniqueness.”

“This is a complex, complicated effort that requires a solution unique to the property,” she said. “We have a discovery process which takes a holistic approach, looking at every aspect of the property in an innovative way. We listen to the community, including community groups. And, we remember that yesterday’s malls were built for a very different consumer. It’s our job to take those ‘bones’ and reinvent them for tomorrow’s consumer, something I consider our company’s ‘secret sauce’ for the location.

“We call that ‘placemaking,’ and it’s the convergence of inventive design, activation, and accretive merchandising. There may be parks, plazas, whatever creates the perfect fit for the community. Dulles Town Center won’t fit into any ‘cookie cutter’ model. What works for the Dulles Town Center must be unique to this particular property, which is why we look at the space as 1.3 million square feet of opportunity.”

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