Letter: Lack of parking limits retail space


It is true that each parking space in front of a retail store is worth about $600,000 in retail sales.

With that simple idea, we redeveloped the Holland central business district years ago. Based on a project we did with Irvine Co. at Fashion Island Center in Newport Beach, California, Ed Prince asked for help in redeveloping the Holland CBD retail.

Today, following a trend going back to the mid-1970s, malls are economically functional and financially obsolete. Department stores are no longer economic drivers for retail — restaurants and food operations are.

Our design of the Irvine Ranch Market at Atrium Court in Fashion Island Center was copied by Whole Foods Market department by department, as well as Kroger’s new “store of the future.” The Irvine Ranch Market had sales of $18 million in 45,000 feet of selling area, including 11,200 square feet of kiosk space selling food items. Combined sales were about $30 million with an average ticket of $10 for 3 million people. Sales in the open-air mall went from $180 per square foot to $350, then to the present level of $650 per square foot with the addition of restaurants and other food vendors.

Ed Prince wanted to do an atrium court in the Holland CBD, but he passed away before we could do it. Still, Holland is now a safe place for stores from national chains that are fleeing malls. In doing so, they avoid the common area operating charges of $35, and instead, they make $30 per square foot in profit by moving to a CBD location anchored by food.

Where is the greatest concentration of restaurant space in Grand Rapids? In the CBD. Is Woodland Mall failing? Yes. Is Holland thriving? Yes.

Why is there a shortage of 250,000 to 300,000 square feet of retail space in the Grand Rapids CBD? No parking.

Robert Schout
Independent Retail Consultant

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