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Retail vacancies demand creativity

By John Seelmeyer

The rapidly changing shape of retail business demands creativity from landlords looking to fill big vacant spaces in shopping centers. Jim Kaplan of K Corp., for instance.

His company needs to find a new tenant to fill a space in the Crossing at Meadowood center at Neil Road and South Virginia Street recently vacated by Goodwill. The nonprofit left the 31,400-square-foot space when it moved to the former Toys R Us location in south Reno. 

The challenge: Department stores and big specialty retailers who typically filled anchor space in shopping centers have been hard-hit by online competition.

But, Kaplan says, “Anchors remain critical to retail development. Now, we as developers are reimagining who those anchors are and thinking outside of traditional parameters.”

He makes numerous calls every day to potential tenants. Maybe a local firm wants to expand or relocate. Maybe a regional firm — one from Las Vegas or Denver or Sacramento — plans to move into Reno. One possibility is dividing the space and leasing it to several users.

Or maybe the space will be leased by a user who isn’t typically considered to be a shopping center anchor — a gym, a medical facility, a school.

“They attract a similar amount of traffic that other traditional anchors do,” says Kaplan.

And shopper traffic is key to the success of a shopping center. Smaller stores rely on the traffic drawn by anchor tenants, and anchor tenants help set the tone of an entire center.

“Attracting the right anchor to a retail development can increase traffic and improve occupancy rates as confidence in the center rises,” Kaplan says.

Goodwill moved into the space at the busy intersection in 2008. Previously, the building was home to a couple of electronics retailers — Circuit City, then CompUSA. 

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– Compiled by Darcy Lenardson