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Here’s What Innovative Landlords Are Doing With Mall Parking Lots



Some retail landlords have taken to holding outdoor events in their parking lots.
Savvy landlords have a pretty good handle on what kind of sales they can expect to generate at their properties, but they would be all ears if they found out there was an easy way to help their malls and centers generate even more. They may want to listen up, as some innovative owners are showing how they can pull this off by using a section of their property that can be a little empty at times.   

As Bloomberg shares, some retail landlords have taken to holding outdoor events in their parking lots. Think concerts, outdoor movies, carnivals and even food-truck festivals. The concept makes a ton of sense, as outdoor events such as those tend to draw a crowd. As long as the customers are already there on site, how many of them won’t at least go to the mall to check things out and spend some money?

Civic Center parking lot in Cathedral City, California. KevaWorks

That’s a concept some landlords are banking on, and we’re talking about big names such as GGP and Simon, as well as smaller operators across the country. It’s beginning to catch on, and there are even outside vendors that help landlords set up such events without too much of a hassle.  

“Events draw people to come to the shopping center. They generate revenue for the owner and offer a chance for cross-promotion, so they can try and drive more customers into the stores,” said Craig Herkimer of KevaWorks Inc., a company that works with landlords to produce outdoor events. 

Some other innovative ideas that have been making the rounds include making the parking lots into seasonal attractions, like a pumpkin patch in the fall months, for example. 

“Events bring that additional traffic and also encourage people to stick around longer,” said Lisa Harper, senior director of specialty leasing for Chattanooga, Tennessee-based CBL. 

For malls and centers that are still executing their turnaround strategies, these outdoor events present a fantastic opportunity to show the surrounding community that the property hosting the event is still alive and well.  

“Landlords are trying to give people reasons to come to the mall, whether it’s a Tesla charging station or getting local car clubs to host events in their parking lots. It’s not a fun time to be either a retailer or landlord, but it doesn’t mean every single mall or shopping center is going to close. Far from it,” explains Alexander Goldfarb, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP.

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