Community Shopping Centers - Description and Financing


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Community shopping centers generally have less than 200,000 square feet in gross leasable area. They may be designed as enclosed or open-air malls or as strip centers. The centers are organized around one or more of the major national or regional retailers, one or two “junior” department stores, or a store owned by a company specializing in smaller department store operations. A junior department store will generally have between 30,000 and 50,000 square feet and feature a full line of soft goods (clothing, books, and so on) and often some hard goods (appliances, furniture, and so on).

In the 1980s, major national and regional discount department stores emerged as new, significant anchors for community shopping centers. Retailers such as K-Mart (of the S. S. Kresge Corporation) and Wal-Mart became the dominant force in retail sales growth in the United States in the late 1980s. These stores, usually between 75,000 and 125,000 square feet, compete for discount shoppers with merchandise priced below that of the traditional department store. These super-discounters have become the most popular anchors in many new community strip centers because of their heavy advertising, low prices, and excellent locations, which generate shopping traffic.

Community shopping centers generally require trade areas with populations of 100,000 or more. However, these centers are often located in smaller towns that serve as a shopping area for a larger, multi-community area. Besides the anchor stores, the 10 tenants most likely to appear in these centers are:

  • women’s ready-to-wear shops
  • restaurants (with liquor service)
  • fast food/carryout restaurants
  • beauty salons
  • family shoe shops
  • jewelry shops
  • card and gift shops
  • restaurants (without liquor service)
  • women’s specialty clothing shops
  • banks
  • In strip centers, the anchor usually has a central location; if there are several anchors, they are separated. It is important to remember that because of the weather-exposed design of strip centers, shoppers generally walk for shorter distances between stores to shop than is the case in an enclosed mall area. Rents in strip centers will generally run 40 percent to 60 percent less than those found in similar retail areas in enclosed malls. As a rule, sales per square foot will be correspondingly lower than sales in enclosed malls.

    Like major department stores, food stores are destination stores. The other tenants depend to some extent on the occasional or impulse sales afforded by a good location in the pedestrian traffic pattern between the larger stores. Like the anchors in large super-regional malls, destination stores in community shopping centers often pay rents that cover only the costs to the center’s owner; the more specialized retailers pay rents that represent true profit potential.

    Chad Mayes is the creator of CEMLending Connection , a resource which provides commercial mortgage loan financing and residential refinance and purchase options. This article is copyright of CEMLending Connection . This article may be reproduced as long as author's name and all links remain intact.


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