And adding a new wing, which will boost its selling square footage, is an excellent strategy, while following the trends prevalent among shopping centers today, she said.
The wing’s brighter and more dramatic exterior, modernistic design and luxurious common areas are all aimed at luring shoppers to linger, mirroring the current aesthetic pursued by shopping center developers. And its focus on dining is on target with the current mindset, Cohen said.
“It’s more than architectural — it’s a higher percentage of food,” she said, citing dining as an experience for which online shopping can’t compete.
“Restaurants are much more of a draw—they are a destination,” Cohen said. “And there is a higher percentage of restaurants in any new building, and there is more square footage.”
That was decidedly part of the allure for Bobby’s Burger Palace, said Laurence Kretchmer, Bobby Flay’s partner in the business. The chain has 15 restaurants nationwide, with the closest to South Florida in Virginia.
“We picked Miami because we think it’s an exciting, energized market that will be very receptive to a new version of something it is already familiar with: cheeseburgers,” Kretchmer said.
Bobby’s Burger Palace already leases space in other malls owned by Simon, so that established relationship with the developer was another plus, he said.
“When we went to look at this property it had a lot of the hallmarks we look for, which has to do with the tenant mix, the type of customer it attracts, and we liked the idea that the entire mall was under-restauranted,” Kretchmer said. “We also rely a lot on the convenience factor. And we don’t want to be in a mall that is saturated with food. There was a dearth of restaurants and we wanted to fill that hole.”
Moreover, Dadeland’s customers are a desirable group that retailers and restaurants are trying to reach.
“Dadeland has a very prominent position in South Florida because it’s in the middle of a densely populated, sweet spot for retailers, which is families with young children,” Cohen said, “because families with children in grammar school through high school have the most spending per household.”
The new wing begins outside of Macy’s, where the structure connects to the older part of the mall. Immediately, the new space creates a different ambiance with off-white tile and, at the back, a new escalator that will eventually lead to restaurants.
“It’s more contemporary, more modern,” said Omelio Arrabal, 56, an architect who was walking through the upstairs space for exercise after lunch. “It looks nice.”
Simon Property Group had owned the previous building leased by Express and the Limited, which was torn down in June 2012. Simon — which owns or manages 240 retail properties nationwide, including Miami International Mall and the Falls — hired 505Design of Boulder, Colo., to create the new wing, which took about a year to build and offers “a more efficient and productive” use of the space, Shields said. She declined to provide the amount Simon spent on the project.
The goal was to build a showcase along Kendall Drive, with a dramatic and sophisticated flair.