STERLING, Va. (FNS) -- Giant Food, Landover, Md., has developed a shopping center concept here that's intended to succeed by encouraging browsing. Called the Cascades Marketplace, the new center is designed to boost sales by encouraging shoppers to window-shop, people-watch, drink latte and buy groceries. The center is anchored by a 62,000-square-foot Giant Food supermarket that occupies a rise at one end of the complex.
The complex is divided into three rectangular shopping areas linked together by walkways, gates and other pedestrian-friendly structures. Generous use is made of wrought iron, brickwork, street lights, benches, planters, and storefronts lined with tile and wood.
The design strategy seems to be effective: In their first weeks of operation, the Giant and some other stores were pulling down sales 50% to 60% higher than those called for in the most optimistic projections, said Stephen L. Oseroff, Giant's vice president of shopping centers. He is also operations manager of GFS Realty, the company's development arm. The center opened Aug. 31.
Other tenants include a Starbucks coffee house and other restaurants, with outdoor seating; a music store, and a Blockbuster video store. There are also retailers such as Rack Room Shoes, Linens 'n Things, General Nutrition Center, Marshall's and Cosmetics Center. One undeveloped lot is zoned for a multiscreen cinema. In all, the complex occupies some 105 acres. Cascades Marketplace, which functions as town center for the adjacent Cascades housing development, is in this edge suburb about 30 miles from Washington. Near the Giant are a church, a public library, sites for a senior citizens' activity center and a farmer's market. Next to the Giant are rows of newly built attached houses.
The housing development is expected to eventually have some 25,000 residents when it is completed in about four years. As for the future of the shopping center concept, Oseroff said GFS Realty is evaluating two other centers for a possible conversion to the Cascades format, but the company wants to see more about how the Cascades center performs before decisions are made. He pointed out that high development costs prevent Giant from jumping quickly into more such projects. Unlike most conventional strip shopping centers, the buildings at Cascades have different heights and different looks, a format that is more expensive to construct. The host of design features also add cost. Oseroff declined to identify which centers may eventually be slated for conversion.