CBRE Identifies San Antonio’s Pearl District Among 22 Prime Global Examples of Growing Retail Placemaking Trend

Effective Retail Places Use Leisure, Technology, Planning To Lure Shoppers, Who Now Want Shopping To Be Both Functional, Social

SAN ANTONIO – Jan. 9, 2017 – CBRE Group, Inc. released a report defining retail’s role in the growing trend of placemaking, as retail centers across the globe strive to create environments that attract shoppers and keep them returning amid the expanding culture of online shopping. The CBRE report spotlights 22 international retail centers, including the Pearl neighborhood in San Antonio, that illustrate the varied ways in which retail owners and occupants are creating unique consumer experiences today.

CBRE researchers selected the report’s highlighted properties by considering those established among the best in their region and that include at least one of five key components that CBRE identifies as critical for placemaking:

  • Leisure elements such as restaurants, bars, theaters, sports facilities or scheduled events.
  • Incorporation of technology such as social media and online sales, as well as tools such as public Wi-Fi and parking apps.
  • Consideration for sustainability and well being for tenants and visitors.
  • A focus on vertical, multistory retail, most often in urban environments.
  • And a strong master plan for seamlessly combining varied uses in one property.

San Antonio’s Pearl neighborhood, a redevelopment of the historic Pearl Brewing Company, has been a catalyst for the reinvention of San Antonio’s urban core. It exemplifies placemaking with a focus on leisure and all things culinary, fueled by people, culture, walkability, experiences and food. Since the redevelopment project began in 2002, Pearl has focused on creating authentic experiences and nurturing entrepreneurial endeavors.

Phillip Halliday, Senior Associate, Retail, CBRE said: “With the Culinary Institute of America as an anchor, Pearl has carefully created a thriving cultural destination made up of chef-driven restaurants, a farmers market and signature food events—all rooted in authenticity and excellence. This dynamic culinary scene has become one of Pearl’s main attractions and points of differentiation, and has put San Antonio in the national spotlight.”

Pearl is now one of the city’s top destinations for locals and visitors, and walkability is a key element, connecting the residential, office and retail components to create a vibrant urban community across 16 blocks and nearly 23 acres. The developers have focused strongly on historic preservation throughout the project, as well as sustainability through materials and systems.

Gene Williams, First Vice President, Retail, CBRE said: “The Historic Pearl Brewery Development is truly an internationally recognized project defining the modern trend of urban placemaking. It has been a catalyst for changing the landscape of San Antonio and moving our city to the top of the priority list for growth and expansion by virtually all of the top retailers across the country. With more phases of development to come, we are sure to see many new retailers enter the market and focus on opening stores in the Pearl area.”

Overall, retail plays a critical role in placemaking in that stores, restaurants and entertainment venues contribute substantially to creating a property’s environment and visitor experiences. Such placemaking now is essential for retail developers and investors, as shoppers want their excursions to be both functional and social. At Pearl, visitors can participate in a variety of events focused on food, music and all things local, such as the popular weekly farmers’ market with products sourced within a 150-mile radius.

“Great retail placemaking isn’t limited to one country or one continent,” said Anthony Buono, Chairman of CBRE’s Global Retail Executive Committee. “From the eclectic mix of local eateries in New York’s Chelsea Market to the technological amenities of Hong Kong’s Yoho Mall and the leisure and entertainment options at London’s Spitalfields market, best practices in retail placemaking are applicable globally. These lessons are vital to learn as e-commerce changes shopping habits.”

Other North American properties featured in the report include New York’s Chelsea Market, Los Angeles’ Runway at Playa Vista, San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square, the Miami Design District, Toronto’s Distillery District and Lima Larcomar in Lima, Peru. The report’s other examples range from globally known properties such as the Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates to emerging projects such as Stockholm’s Mall of Scandinavia district.