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Can General Growth Manage Luxury Malls?

Is Chicago, IL-based General Growth Properties (GGP) experienced in dealing with luxury malls? GGP, which owns both the Natick Collection and the recently completed Natick Collection 2007 Expansion, also owns other properties similar to what has been built on the former-Wonder Bread parcel. Tysons Galleria, located in McLean, VA; Northbrook Court, located in Northbrook, IL; and Ala Moana Center, located in Honolulu, HI; are three luxury malls that GGP operates. These three malls have fared differently over the years, and it would seem fitting that their successes and failures show whether what we now have in Natick will be successful.

In May 2006 and April 2007, I visited Northbrook Court. For a mall profile and pictures, click here.

In August 2006, I visited Tysons Galleria. For a mall profile and pictures, click here.

In order to see what the other centers offer, let's compare the Natick Collection with Tyson's Galleria, Northbrook Court, and Ala Moana Center.

The Comparison

Natick Collection & 2007 Expansion
Tysons Galleria Northbrook Court
Ala Moana Center
Location: Natick, MA
McLean, VA
Northbrook, IL
Honolulu, HI
Nearest City:
Boston, MA (18.5 mi)
Washington, D.C. (10.5 mi)
Chicago, IL (25.1 mi)
Honolulu, HI (0.0 mi)
The Town of Natick is located near the center of Boston's affluent MetroWest suburbs, and shares a border with wealthy suburbs such as Wellesley, Weston, Wayland, Dover, and Sherborn.
McLean is a small community located to the Northwest of Washington, D.C in some of the most affluent suburbs of the city. The area surrounding McLean serves as home to many government officials.
Village of Northbrook is located in the heart of Chicago's wealthy North Shore, bordering many other wealthy communities, such as Glencoe, Winnetka, and Highland Park.
The dominant industry in Honolulu is tourism, and the Ala Moana Center caters to that purpose. The center's affluent lean in tenants is more a reflection on the mall's clientele than on the local area.
Last Renovated:
Existing mall renovated in 2006, creating an elegant look to a mall that exemplified the 90's. Luxury wing added in 2007.
1996 remodel brought European styling to the formerly industrial-styled mall.
1996 renovations brought the mall new styling inside, along with the addition of a Marshall Field's (now Macy's) anchor store.
1998 renovations added Neiman Marcus, current expansion will be completed by 2008 and will add Nordstrom and more retail to the center.
Anchor Stores:
Sears, Macy's, Lord & Taylor, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus.
Macy's, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue
Lord and Taylor, Macy's and Neiman Marcus
Sears, Neiman Marcus, Macy's
California Pizza Kitchen, Friendly's, Sel de la Terre, Metropolitan Bar & Grill, Finale Dessert, The Cheescake Factory. Also features a full food court.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro and Prime Blue coming soon.
Corner Bakery Cafe, Daily Grill, Lebanese Taverna, Legal Sea Foods, Maggiano's Little Italy, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, and The Cheesecake Factory
Corner Bakery Cafe, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Stir Crazy, Johnny Rockets, The Palm, Di Pescara, and Magic Pan. Also features a full food court.
Assaggio, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., California Pizza Kitchen, Genki Sushi, Island's Fine Burgers & Drinks, Jackie's Kitchen, Kirin Restaurant, Kyoto Ohsho
Longhi's, Morton's The Steakhouse, Panya Bistro, Rokkaku, Romano's Macaroni Grill, Ruby Tuesday, along with a full food court.
Special Features:
Nouvelle at Natick, set to open in 2008, will add condominiums to the project, and an upscale hotel will be built in the coming years.
Tysons Galleria is able to claim it's own luxury hotel, as a Ritz-Carlton hotel is located on the mall premises.
At the center of Northbrook Court is the Tree House, a large playhouse for children inside the mall.
Ala Moana Centerstage, located at the center of the mall, features live entertainment for shoppers.
Current Conditions:
A strong public relations effort got everyone talking about the mall when it opened on September 7th. Whether it will continue to be a regional draw is yet to be seen.
Mall is thriving in the current economy, as wealthy shoppers have money to spend. The mall offers a blend of high-end stores inside. Tysons closely models the Natick Mall Expansion, as, adjacent to Tysons Galleria is Tysons Corner, not owned by GGP, which acts as a "normal" mall for the area.
Northbrook Court is currently having problems getting shoppers into the mall, as the stores inside the mall are not targetted to the correct audience. Despite the success of it's main anchors, Northbrook is changing the retail mix inside the mall in order to further focus on it's target shopper, the 38-year old woman.
Although the facility opened to target locals, Ala Moana Center is doing strong business targeting tourists. The mall has changed ownershop many times; not surprisingly, it has a poor interior flow as a result of poorly built expansions. While former anchor Liberty House was able to block Nordstrom on the first time around, the store is under construction and is expected to broaden the mall's appeal and further enhance it's upscale draw.

Interesting Facts

Northbrook Court and Tysons Galleria both have P.F. Chang's China Bistro locations. The upscale Chinese food restaurant chain has one location in Downtown Boston, and will open at the Natick Collection in February.

Northbrook and Tysons also both have Corner Bakery Cafe restaurants, but nothing has been said as to rumor an opening at the Natick Mall; after all, the company has no presence at all in the Greater Boston area.

GGP's Vice President of Development, Jim Grant, noted that Natick was "in need of a good upscale restaurant" in a Globe article about Filene's. If he was referring to the town, he'd be kind of wrong (Legal Sea Foods is a sneeze away in Framingham, Skipjack's is in Natick), but if referring to the mall, he has a point. He pointed out three names: McCormick and Schmick's, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, and Maggiano's Little Italy. At this point, only P.F. Chang's has signed a lease, but there are openings available in the J.C. Penney building and The Promenade lifestyle center addition.

Tyson's Galleria is adjacent to Tysons Corner, the mall that spawned the Galleria. Tysons Corner houses one of the first two Apple Store locations. On July 16, 2005, an Apple Store opened at Northbrook Court. Northbrook Court is closer to another Apple Store than the Natick Mall is to The Mall at Chestnut Hill. An Apple Store opened at the Natick Collection expansion on September 7th.


August 22, 2005 - When you think about food from a mall food court, burgers, cinnamon buns, chinese food are the usual candidates. But what about a place that sells only crepes? Turns out a Magic Pan crepe stand is opening at Northbrook Court. Magic Pan was at one time a national chain, but died out in the early-90's. A reincarnation of the chain by Chicago-based restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You brought a stand to the  Mall of America in Bloomington, MN, and now one is opening in Northbrook tomorrow. The Chicago Tribune has more information about the restaurant at http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-magicpan23.html.

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