Article submitted by Carmen R. Austin, MBA, CCIM, Associate Broker & Retail Specialist at Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate
Written By Liam Pleven | November 24, 2015
Visitors used to flock to the Highland Mall in Austin, Texas, around the holidays to stroll through the city’s first enclosed shopping complex and admire the giant Christmas tree crafted from poinsettia plants.
But this holiday season, no shopping will be done there. Workers are converting the 600,000-square-foot structure into a campus for Austin Community College with classrooms, lab space and a culinary arts center.
Austin’s economy is strong and its population swelling, but Highland couldn’t attract enough shoppers to stay afloat.
“Competition came up and killed it,” said Matt Whelan, principal at developer Red Leaf Properties LLC, which is working with the college on the project.
An era of relentless expansion for American shopping centers is coming to an end as a toxic brew of overbuilding, the rise of e-commerce and a wave of retailer bankruptcies force landlords to reimagine once-lucrative properties.
Some owners are converting struggling malls into apartments, offices and industrial space, while others are turning big chunks of retail space into parks and playgrounds to keep shoppers interested.
“You have to create an environment that people want to come to,” said Tony Ruggeri, who eliminated about 50,000 square feet of retail space to create an open-air plaza at West Manchester Town Center in York, Pa., which reopened last year.
By year-end there will be 48.3 square feet of retail space per person in the U.S., down from the record of 49.8 set in 2009, according to real-estate data firm CoStar Group Inc. CSGP 1.35 % This year marks the sixth consecutive annual drop, and CoStar forecasts declines through at least 2020.”
Carmen R. Austin, MBA, CCIM has been a practicing commercial real estate broker since 2001. She is a graduate of the Louisiana State University (LSU) E.J Ourso College of Business and the LSU Flores Masters of Business Administration (MBA) Program with a specialization in Entrepreneurship and Real Estate Finance. Her experience includes past employment as Regional Director of Leasing at Commercial Properties Realty Trust the for-profit arm of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. Carmen’s affilIations include Louisiana REALTORS, Greater Baton Rouge Association of Realtors Commercial Investment Division, International Council of Shopping Centers, Commercial Real Estate Women, Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute, National Association of REALTORS, and Urban Land Institute. She is also an active volunteer on the board of directors for the Baton Rouge Gallery, LSU MBA Alumni Association, Junior Achievement of Baton Rouge, and the Junior League of Baton Rouge. Carmen is a graduate of the Jay W. Levine Leadership Development Academy Class of 2011 and served as the 2010 President of the Louisiana CCIM Chapter. Carmen currently serves on the National CCIM Institute Board of Directors.
Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate is a member of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce (BRAC); the West Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce; the Baton Rouge Growth Coalition; the Baton Rouge Better Business Bureau; the Louisiana Commercial Data Base (LACDB); and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Several agents, on an individual basis, are members of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors® (SIOR), the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute (CCIM); the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR); and the Greater Baton Rouge Association of REALTORS® Commercial Investment Division (CID).