Shopping Malls’ New Product: Fun

Shopping Malls’ New Product: Fun

Many U.S. malls are experimenting with entertainment-focused tenants

Go-kart racing, indoor rope climbing and laser tag aren’t activities typically associated with back-to-school shopping, but that is what some shoppers at a Syracuse, N.Y., mall are doing.

Entertainment offerings at malls have generally been limited to dining and maybe a multiscreen movie theater alongside the main draw of traditional retailers. But many U.S. malls, like Syracuse’s Destiny USA, are experimenting with entertainment-focused tenants more likely to be found in an amusement park than a shopping center.

Among the newcomers: high-tech golf driving ranges, skydiving simulators and “escape rooms,” in which players are locked and challenged to find a way out by looking for clues and solving riddles.

These attractions are keeping people in malls longer, landlords say. “Guests stay here for over six hours,” said Marc Strang, corporate marketing director at Pyramid Management Group, which owns and operates 15 malls in addition to Destiny USA.

They are also spending more money. Destiny USA sells day passes ranging from $38 to $48 for access to a number of its attractions which include laser tag, immersive adventures, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf and an outlet of the Build-a-Bear chain.

Food and entertainment currently account for 22.1% of the space leased in malls, compared with 19.2% in 2012, according to data from CoStar Group Inc. This year, Pyramid has 49 entertainment tenants which account for 9.6% of leasable area in its portfolio, up from 16 tenants and 4.3% of its portfolio in 2010.

“We’re aggressively rolling the entertainment across all the other properties,” said Mr. Strang.

Malls’ reinvention as entertainment hubs is partly a response to the increasing competition online shopping poses to their traditional tenants, many of whom are scaling back. Macy’s Inc. said in August it is planning to close 100 stores, or about 15% of its locations, amid sliding sales.

At the same time, investors are betting on the entertainment trend, with some of them showing decent profits. Consider, for example, EPR Properties, a real-estate investment trust based in Kansas City that focuses partly on building state-of-the-art movie theaters and golf entertainment complexes next to or inside shopping centers.

EPR reported revenue of $236.8 million in the first half of 2016, compared with $200.7 million in the same period of 2015. The company’s shares, which this year hit a record high of about $85, have risen 39.5% in 2016, compared with 11.7% for the broader equity REIT index.

“We’re starting to see the recognition of this now. We do a lot of business with the mall guys,” said Gregory Silvers, chief executive officer at EPR, which got its start in 1997 building theaters. “They say, we’ve got a lot of department stores, we need something that’s going to be a traffic generator.”

EPR’s projects include a family entertainment center adjoining Oakbrook Center, a shopping mall in Chicago. It also has developed state-of-the-art movie theaters in malls across the country, including in Lycoming Mall in Pennsylvania and NorthEast Mall in Hurst, Texas.

EPR’s movie theaters used to be standard multi-screen complexes. Now they are introducing luxury recliner seats and gourmet dining options and they offer their big screens for private gaming parties.

Another big EPR tenant is Topgolf Entertainment Group, a firm that operates driving ranges that allow players to hit golf balls containing microchips that track each shot for point-scoring. The ranges typically also offer drinking and dining as well as features such as live music.

EPR has built 20 of these ranges, half of them in large spaces next to shopping centers. They cost about $18 million to $24 million each to build, Mr. Silvers said.

Of course, amusement attractions aren’t the panacea for the mall industry. Space vacated by a department store sometimes has to be demolished to make way for the new entrants because their designs don’t work as entertainment space. It also remains to be seen if the new tenants will draw customers to shop in stores nearby.

But it is clear to many in the retail business that entertainment will play a critical role in the future of malls. “I’m not sure anything is ever a sure win but certainly being at the forefront of consumer trends, as the industry is, is essential to staying relevant,” said Tom McGee, chief executive of the International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade group.

Some businesses are retooling old ideas.For example, EPR has worked with new bowling operators like Pinstripes, Punch Bowl Social and Main Event to develop new alleys in malls and other locations that feature more upmarket dining options and sometimes include other games such as bocce and minigolf.

New concepts include iFly, an indoor skydiving simulator. The Texas-based company SkyVenture LLC currently has 37 facilities around the world that charge about $60 for two flights for first-time customers, according to its website. Its locations include City Centre Mirdif, a mall in Dubai.

Bangkok, Thailand-based Escape Hunt Operations Ltd, one of the biggest operators of escape rooms, initially focused on attracting businesses that wanted to use the games as team-building events.

More recently the company has been trying to broaden its customer base, eyeing 25-to-40-year-olds and families with teenagers. Part of this strategy involves finding more locations at shopping centers.

“Traditionally, we did not consider [shopping centers] as rental costs were prohibitive, but recently we have tried harder to secure such spaces,” said Paul Bart, Escape Hunt Experience’s chief executive.

Escape Hunt has six locations in the U.S., including a mixed-use building in Houston and a Dallas strip center.

Shopping Malls’ New Product: Fun

The Five Most Expensive Homes for Sale in the U.S.

The Five Most Expensive Homes for Sale in the U.S.

The five most expensive properties currently available for sale in the U.S. range from a 33-bedroom compound near Palm Beach, Fla., for $195 million to a modern estate in Beverly Hills for $135 million.

The price tag of the home topping the list—produced by real estate website Point2 Homespulling data from different industry portals— would be enough to buy 787 residential properties at the nationwide median price, which as of June was $236,300, according to the National Association of Realtors. Even the least expensive residence on the 34-property roster is luxurious beyond measure: a $69 million Tahoe lakefront ranch with vistas of Montana and Wyoming.

MORE: World’s Most Expensive Home Hits Market for €1 Billion

While Point2 Homes’ ranking encompasses the entire U.S., the list is dominated by just six states. With 15, New York State hast the most properties on the list, while California has 12 and Florida three. Connecticut has two of the most expensive homes for sale, Colorado and Nevada one each.

Find out what the top five have to offer here:

Courtesy of Point2 Homes

No. 1:
2000 South Ocean Blvd., Manalapan, Fla.
Price: $195 million
Bedrooms: 33
Bathrooms: 47
Sq ft: 62,873

Described as a “tropical compound,” this 15-acre-plus property is the ultimate private residence on Manalapan’s barrier island, just 20 minutes south of Palm Beach, according to its listing. Nicknamed Gemini, the home is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, creating a sort of “private island paradise,” the listing says. It includes a main residence, two four-bedroom beachside cottages, a miniature golf course, a regulation tennis court, a half basketball court and a plunge pool.

The area around Palm Beach is no stranger to luxury: Prime property prices have increased by 66.1% in the last year. But with an average sales price of $13.3 million in the second quarter, Gemini is still about 14 times more expensive than what the typical wealthy homebuyer spends in the area.

View this property

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

No. 2:
301 North Carolwood Drive, Los Angeles, Calif.
Price: $150 million
Bedrooms: 10
Bathrooms: 20
Sq ft: 30,000

This single-family house, built in 2016, includes a private hiking trail and multiple guest structures, with a 10-car garage and parking for 50 vehicles, according to the listing.

The property also features a wine room and a theater complex with a separate valet entrance. The spa level boasts a lap pool, hair salon and massage rooms. For the owner’s pampering, the master suite features a private heated covered patio.

View this property

Joyce Rey

No. 3:
Palazzo di Amore, Lania Lane, Beverly Hills, Calif.
Price: $149 million
Bedrooms: 12
Bathrooms: 23
Sq ft: 10,300

The third property in the top five is just $1 million less expensive than the second one, but it offers more bedrooms and bathrooms. Its quarter-mile driveway and guardhouse afford ultimate privacy to the homeowners and any guests they may wish to host; the property includes a guest house and enough parking to accommodate 150 cars.

MORE: One of the Most Expensive U.S. Homes Can Now Be Rented for $375,000 a Month

Besides city, ocean and sculpted canyon views, the house has a host of amenities to keep residents and guests busy. According to the listing, there is a state-of-the-art theater, a discotheque, a bowling alley, a wine cellar, a pool, a spa and a tennis court. For the wine lover, a vineyard produces around 400 to 500 cases of wine per year from a range of varieties, including sangiovese, syrah, cabernet, and merlot.

View this property

Brown Harris Stevens The Hamptons

No. 4:
90 Briar Patch Road, East Hampton, New York
Price: $140 million
Bedrooms: 10
Bathrooms: 9
Sq ft: 53,000

This 80-year-old waterfront estate, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places, has more than 1,150 feet of waterfront along Georgica Pond, offering views of the pond and the Atlantic shoreline, according to the listing.

The six-bedroom main house was restored and renovated over 2½ years and features a three-story great room, four fireplaces, a chef’s kitchen and expansive porches accessible from French doors. There is also a tennis court, a pool, a hot tub and a third-floor gym with sea views.

View this property

John Aaroe Group

No. 5:
1187 North Hillcrest Road, Beverly Hills, California
Price: $135 million
Bedrooms: 7
Bathrooms: 10
Sq ft: 18,000

This is the former estate of comedian Danny Thomas, who also founded St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The home’s 360-degree views span from downtown to the canyons. Details include gold leaf crown moldings and hand-woven carpets. The outdoor area features a swimming pool, a dining area and viewing pavilions, according to the listing.

View this property

The Five Most Expensive Homes for Sale in the U.S.

More on beautiful, expensive homes:

This Is London’s Most Expensive Apartment

This Is London’s Most Expensive Apartment

Located at a historical site.

A property at Admiralty Arch in London could be the most expensive apartment to ever be listed in the city.

It’s a 12-bedroom home that comes with concierge service, valet parking, a membership to a private members’ club, and ceilings at least a third higher than other luxury apartments in London, the Telegraph reports. It’s being sold by Rafael Serrano, a Spanish developer, and is expected to cost nearly $200 million. The “stamp duty,” a tax on documents in a real estate transaction in the U.K., on the apartment alone will come to $21 million.

The average price for an apartment in Westminster is $2,000 per square foot. The Admiralty Arch apartment is estimated to be priced six times higher, at about $12,000 per square foot. Serrano signed a 250-year lease in 2012, purchasing the property from the government for nearly $80 million. Previous tenants include Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Mountbatten. The developer plans to turn the rest of the historic site into a luxury hotel.

“It’s extremely rare for developments that are steeped in history, as well as offering unrivaled interiors and a full concierge service, to come to the market,” Tim Macpherson of Carter Jonas, an estate agency, told the Telegraph. He added that, in addition to the apartment itself and the perks that it comes with, the buyer will also be paying for “the simple cachet of living at this address.”


Fortune reported at the end of March that London’s average housing prices had gone up by 13.5% since the previous year. It looks like prices will go down as a result of last month’s Brexit vote, with French bank Societe Generale estimating that they will plummet by as much as 50%.

This Is London’s Most Expensive Apartment

4 ways technology is influencing global real estate

4 ways technology is influencing global real estate

Successful investment in real estate at the global level requires an understanding of technology’s far-reaching, connected influence. A recent research report from CBRE explores how advances in technology open up new, exciting opportunities globally for those looking to invest in commercial real estate.

Here are four technological factors influencing the future of global real-estate investment.


Rapid globalization has led to an explosion of information, services, and know-how. “The information base on global commercial real estate that’s available to investors is much deeper and more accurate than ever before, and this information is accessible in real time,” says Jack Fraker, managing director of CBRE’s capital markets industrial practice.

As a result, investors are leveraging this wealth of information to make more informed investment decisions across a wider range of asset types and geographies.

Big data

Technology has changed the way we gather and analyze information. Investors can now track what had previously been untrackable.

Consider how the big-data revolution has transformed our analysis of urbanization. Today’s populations are adopting a city-centric lifestyle more than at any other time in history. By watching the way the world is urbanizing, investors can anticipate trends in commercial real estate.

Take industrial real estate as an example. According to David Egan, CBRE’s head of industrial research for the Americas, “industrial real-estate trends are tightly married to supply-chain trends, which in turn follow population trends.”


In the increasingly popular world of e-commerce, it’s easy to think there isn’t a need for a retailer to have a physical presence near the customer. However, this assumption could not be further from the truth. Real estate is more important than ever, with e-commerce retailers needing to be closer to city centers where their goods are most readily distributed to ensure efficient and cost-effective delivery of goods.

Self-driving cars

Autonomous transportation is shaping up to overshadow traditional automobile operation, and it will have a big effect on real estate. Self-driving cars are also self-parking, which means future real estate will require less dedicated parking. Urban areas with poor parking ratios by today’s standards will become more economically viable, a subtle but profound change.

Self-navigating vehicles will also affect delivery, supply lines, and vehicle availability across multiple industries, changing the way we use commercial and industrial real estate. Cities will adopt autonomous transportation based on legal and economic factors as local cultures adopt driverless cars.

4 ways technology is influencing global real estate

Navigating the Waters of Caribbean Real Estate

Navigating the Waters of Caribbean Real Estate

Many factors make the Caribbean an enticing option for those looking to buy property in paradise.

With proximity to the mainland, incredibly mild year-round temperatures, and stunning natural beauty, the West Indies offer a bevy of reasons to encourage serious buyers, regardless of whether they are looking for a vacation home, a second residence, or simply a great investment. Add to the mix a romantic history and the area’s current rejuvenation, and purchasing real estate in the Caribbean becomes hard to resist.

But knowing how to navigate the numerous possibilities could make the difference between finding a desirable location and getting stuck with someplace disappointing. With more than 700 islands, myriad local cultural attitudes, and almost as many residential options as fish in the sea, even the savviest investor might feel reluctant to take the next step.

Fortunately, a renaissance in resort development has led to the creation of new alternatives like Christophe Harbour.

Located between Antigua and St. Maarten in the heart of the eastern Caribbean on St. Kitts, Christophe Harbour features unparalleled beauty, upscale amenities, and cutting-edge facilities. Backed by the acclaimed developer Buddy Darby—who is known for his success at Kiawah Island, S. C., and Doonbeg, Ireland—the private island community melds a relaxed Caribbean sensibility with grand real estate, a distinctive collection of amenities unmatched in the region, and a world-class superyacht harbor. The Caribbean’s first Park Hyatt hotel is set to open later this year. This coupled with the newly opened marina, creates an enticing destination for lifestyle investors.

Christophe Harbour’s residential enclaves offer a diverse selection of premier Caribbean ownership opportunities that include oceanfront, hillside, and harborside homesites, turnkey villas, and custom estate homes. Investors can choose from a carefully considered collection of existing home plans, create their home with the help of a design review board, or steer their floating home into a private superyacht marina berth. Expert advice from the design review board and the slow-growth, build-value-over-time mentality of this family-owned company should be key factors to help put buyers at ease.

Christophe Harbour is also approved under the Citizenship by Investment Program, which makes investors and their families eligible for many outstanding benefits including visa-free travel to more than 120 countries. This program is one of the oldest, most established of its kind in the world.

The appealing aspects of Christophe Harbour make an investment in the Caribbean seem more advisable than ever.

Navigating the Waters of Caribbean Real Estate

New Rallying Cry Among Investors in Europe: “Go East”

With competition heating up in European real estate markets, it’s time for investors to look to the region’s central and eastern fringes, according to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield.

Economies in countries like Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary are improving, and the relative shortage of debt “can open up opportunities for equity investors,” the report said.

Prague and Warsaw are the leading property markets in this region, although there are others “with obvious geopolitical risks to consider but also high potential returns,” it said. Budapest “is perhaps the most notable example.”

Some investors are already there…

New Rallying Cry Among Investors in Europe: “Go East”

20 Buildings That Show the Future of Architecture

The Truffle

Aqua Tower

Alcabideche Social Complex

A modern border checkpoint in Sarpi

Blob VB3


J. Mayer H.’s massive parasol in the center of Seville

Doctors homes at the Butaro, Rwanda hospital

Herzog & de Meuron’s Miami parking garage

The eco hotels in Baja California

The Living’s Hy-Fi structure at MoMA PS1

nArchitects’ micro housing for NYC


Bjarke Ingels’ transformation of the New York City skyline

A new structure in Thailand

HWKN’s winning design for the MoMA PS1 Young Architects program

The Seattle Library

The Lowline

20 Buildings That Show the Future of Architecture

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