A power center or big-box center (known in Canadian and Commonwealth English as power centre or big-box centre) is a shopping center with typically 250,000 to 600,000 square feet (23,000 to 56,000 m2) of gross leasable area that usually contains three or more big box anchor tenants and various smaller retailers, where the anchors occupy 75–90% of the total area.
Origins and history
280 Metro Center in Colma, California is credited as the world's first power center. Local real estate developer Merritt Sher opened 280 Metro Center in 1986 next to Interstate 280 as an open-air strip shopping center dominated by big-box stores and category killers. As originally constructed, 280 Metro Center featured 363,000 square feet (33,700 m2) of gross leasable area, which was home to seven anchor tenants, 27 smaller shops, and a six-screen movie theater. The original seven anchors were Federated Electronics, The Home Depot, Herman's Sporting Goods, Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack, Pier 1, and The Wherehouse.
280 Metro Center was a revolutionary development at a time when retail shopping in North America was dominated by enclosed shopping malls. Fed up with long hikes through shopping malls to visit relatively small boutique tenants, American shoppers flocked to power centers where they could conveniently park right in front of big-box stores. By 1998, there were 313 power centers in the United States with a combined gross leasable area of 266,000,000 square feet (24,700,000 m2); together, they accounted for over five percent of national shopping center sales. The highest numbers of power centers were in the states of California and Florida. By January 2017, there were 2,258 power centers in the United States with a combined gross leasable area of 990,416,000 square feet (92,012,700 m2), which was 13% of the combined gross leasable area of all shopping centers in the United States.
In Canada, South Edmonton Common in Edmonton is the largest power centre, and one of the largest open-air retail developments in North America. Spread over 320 acres (1.3 km2), South Edmonton Common has more than 2,300,000 sq ft (210,000 m2) of gross leasable area.[non-primary source needed]
Repurposing malls as power centers
In recent years, it has become common for older, traditional shopping malls to:
- Become hybrid malls and power centers, where some or all anchors are big box stores, and the mall shops are still mostly national chains typically found in malls. Example: Panorama Mall in Los Angeles, anchored by Walmart and Curacao big box discount stores.
- Add outside but adjacent areas with big-box stores and/or strip mall-type buildings. Examples: Puente Hills Mall and Del Amo Fashion Center in Southern California; Deerfoot Meadows in Calgary, Alberta.
- To be torn down and replaced with a neighborhood shopping center or power center. Examples: La Mirada Mall and La Habra Fashion Square in Southern California; and Seven Corners Shopping Center in suburban Washington, D.C. Seven Corners, once anchored by department stores Garfinckel's and Woodward & Lothrop, was an indoor mall with an adjacent strip-style convenience center. The indoor portion was torn down and replaced with a strip of big box stores and smaller shops.
Main Street theme
Some new power center developments have attempted, as have lifestyle centers and regional outdoor malls (e.g. Otay Ranch Town Center, Atlantic Station), to recreate the atmosphere of an old-town Main Street. Stores line streets where cars may drive and where there is limited parking, with much more parking in lots or garages in the back. The "main street" particularly serves to house the smaller stores and chain stores once typically found in malls. An example is Woodbury Lakes in Woodbury, Minnesota—where, according to urbanist website streets.mn, the developers "dispensed with the integrated anchors and instead plopped down 'Main Street' in the middle of what is otherwise a regional power center".
Vertical power centers
Power centers are almost always in suburban areas, but occasionally redevelopment has brought them to densely populated urban areas. In environments where denser development is desirable, a power center may consist of multiple floors, with one or more big-box anchors on each floor, and floors of parking, all "stacked" vertically. Examples of such centers include:
- 10 Dundas East, Toronto
- City Point (Brooklyn)
- Dadeland Station (Miami)
- Metro Center (planned, East Village, San Diego)
- One Westside (West Los Angeles)
- Northgate North Mall, Seattle WA
- Patio Santa Fe (Santa Fe, Mexico City)
- Toreo Parque Central, Mexico City
In Europe, any shopping center with mostly what are called "retail warehouse units" (U.K.) or "big box stores" or "superstores" (U.S.), 5,000 square metres (54,000 sq ft) or larger, is a retail park, according to the leading real estate company Cushman & Wakefield.
According to ICSC, what in Europe is classified as a "retail park" would, in the U.S., be classified thus:
- Power center – 250,000 to 600,000 square feet (23,000 to 56,000 m2), typically anchored by category-killer big box stores (e.g. Best Buy) including discount department stores (e.g. Target) and wholesale clubs (e.g. Costco)
- Neighborhood shopping center – 30,000 to 125,000 square feet (2,800 to 11,600 m2) of gross leasable area, typically anchored by a supermarket and/or large drugstore
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- http://www.shopdcusa.com. Missing or empty
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- SmartCentres – includes photos of its developments