By: Paul Owers, CoStar
After opening almost two decades ago near downtown West Palm Beach, Florida, the largest real estate development in the city’s history has a new name and focus, part of an evolution older centers nationwide are undertaking to appeal to millennials who prefer to shop online.
CityPlace, at 575 S. Rosemary Ave. , now is known as Rosemary Square, and The Related Cos. of New York says it is spending $550 million in the next five years to rebrand the aging outdoor center as an urban village to make it more of a destination that is different from other developments. West Palm Beach sits just across the Intracoastal Waterway from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and other palatial properties in Palm Beach.
Similar retail transformations are happening at centers in and near Miami and across the United States as e-commerce gains more traction in the era of Amazon.
As Macy’s, Sears and other traditional retail heavyweights close stores, mall landlords are replacing them with innovative concepts and tenants that offer experiences to customers. Some owners are reconfiguring the spaces, adding apartments and even grocery stores , as a way to keep once-stale properties relevant.
“Not only do they have to be innovative and creative, but once the innovation becomes public, the shelf life is obviously shorter because everybody duplicates it,” said Michael Lagazo, an independent retail broker in San Diego.
“Shopping doesn’t hold our fascination as it did in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s,” added Neil Merin, a longtime South Florida broker and chairman of Merin Hunter Codman in West Palm Beach. “People want unique experiences.”
While the new name may be hard to get used to, CityPlace’s repositioning has merit, said Robert Granda, vice president of investments for the Marcus & Millichap brokerage in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“They had to do something,” Granda said. “CityPlace had a negative correlation. It was dying a very slow death.”
At first, the $375 million CityPlace was an image boost for West Palm Beach. The development helped the city attract locals who left Palm Beach County to drive south to bars and restaurants on trendy Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale or to the swanky nightclubs on Miami Beach.
But CityPlace eventually grew stagnant, losing patrons to nearby downtown areas, including Atlantic Avenue 20 miles south in Delray Beach, Granda said.
Related Cos.’ investment in Rosemary Square includes adding a hotel and a 300,000-square-foot office tower while also turning a former Macy’s department store into a 21-story mixed-use building featuring residences and office space.