Posted February 19th, 2015 in Blog by Rick Hill

Miami, the third largest luxury market in the United States, was once one hundred percent controlled by the Whitman family, owners of the Bal Harbour Shops. For years, the 500,000 square-foot Bal Harbour Shops, located north of Miami Beach on Highway A1A near 5-star hotels and high-rise luxury condos, restricted its luxury retailers from opening second stores in the market.The restriction was justified by the development’s position as the highest producing mall in the United States, with sales reportedly topping $2,900+ per square foot. In recent years, however, the world’s leading brands have begun an exodus to other locations, especially to the new Miami Design District development.
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Posted December 5th, 2014 in Blog by Rick Hill

We all have those transformative moments in our careers: the moment we won a big award; the moment we were singled out for a great success; and of course the moment we blurted out a giant gaffe – the kind we wanted to retract before the last word left our mouth. We learn from our successes and more from our failures.


I’ve been in the retail development business for over 30 years, learning the business at an early age at The Rouse Company; then forming a national property management firm servicing major institution like New York Life, Teachers Insurance, and Stanford University Pension fund and winning several ICSC and ULI national awards along the way. While working on 146 projects which included IKEA, Planet Hollywood, Virgin Megastore, 11 National Parks, luxury hotels and resorts, the 96 Olympic Games and many more – I’ve had a lot of these moments. Recently, however, I encountered one that truly surprised me. While making a presentation to a potential developer on behalf of my client, a family trust with a strategic property in a major boom city, I was criticized for a plan that was labeled as being out of touch.


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Posted September 30th, 2013 in Blog by Rick Hill

granary-row-salt-lake-city-2-537x405How colorless urban districts are being revived by imaginative citizens.


I spend a lot of time looking at the underbelly and backside of cities instead of the preferred Chamber of Commerce photo ops. I find the more humble districts of a city, the ones somewhat frozen in time to be far more interesting.


These districts are often located between the showcase blocks of a downtown and the first ring of gentrified neighborhoods. Characterized by acres of underutilized parcels and aging and often functionally obsolete buildings, the “in-between zones” are the most intriguing. Even in their tattered state, the remnant zones of previous industrial, manufacturing, and segregation economies offer hope, promise and the greatest potential for economic development.


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Posted September 16th, 2013 in Blog by Rick Hill

Barefoot Landing -House of BluesBarefoot Landing, a lifestyle and entertainment shopping center, located in Myrtle Beach, SC, was sold in April to a subsidiary of Burroughs and Chapin for a reported $43 million.  The waterfront village, consisting of approximately 100+ shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues was developed by Sam Puglia.


In late 1987, Sam approached me to help him plan and lease a small specialty retail center he wanted to develop in North Myrtle Beach, SC.  I drove down to South Carolina from Charlotte, NC and was impressed by the natural beauty of the location, a 27 acre lake between tidal basins of the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, and the sight of Boss Hog, a 14 foot alligator sunning himself on the lake’s shore.  At the time, I thought the market was too seasonal and declined the assignment.  Sam moved forward without me, and proved the wisdom of his vision and later convinced me to join him in subsequent phases. Continue Reading »

Posted September 2nd, 2013 in Blog by Rick Hill

images (15)In the early 1950,s, in the face of a declining amusement park industry, Walt Disney conceptualized Disneyland based loosely on Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen Denmark, which had opened in 1843 as a public amusement garden themed around the stories of Hans Christian Anderson.  On July 17, 1955 Disneyland opened in Anaheim, with a formula of year round good weather, large parking areas, and easy highway access.  His blueprint included a traditional American main street with retail shops and concessions and themed lands with rides and shows borrowed from children fairy-tales and an overall sense of nostalgic community.


Disney’s underlying business model included two highly profitable strategies: feeding and housing guests and selling goods.  As Disney expanded and perfected its formula in Orlando, it became so efficient at moving, feeding, selling, housing people and telling stories, the company actually considered opening a visitor center, hotels and tours in at least one major U.S. city where the existing parks, museums and memorials would be the attraction. Continue Reading »

Posted August 27th, 2013 in Uncategorized by Rick Hill

Bardstown Courthouse SquareAs mentioned in an earlier post, I grew up in Bardstown, a small town about 38 miles southeast of Louisville, Kentucky.  After living away from Bardstown for most of my adult life, I decided last year to reorient myself and thought a brief return to my home town could be enriching.  I recently, celebrated my first year of reorientation which usually begins with an early morning 7 mile walk past Historic Federal Hill, once a tobacco plantation that inspired the song, “My Old Kentucky Home” by Stephen Foster, often considered to be America’s first great composer.  I travel a route that takes me past bourbon distilleries, through the traditional black community and into the town center, which is a national historic landmark district.  My midway point takes me down a vital main street where I stop and read the daily headlines posted on the front of paper vending boxes.  At the end of Main Street is a courthouse square and monument to John Fifth, an early steamboat inventor. Continue Reading »

Posted August 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized by Rick Hill

desigual-02In my last post, I suggested that many planners, architects, and builders of today appear to have lost sight of the true sources of inspiration: the fusion of a diversity of people, art, and technology. They fail to recognize that the built environment must be a product of the contemporary culture of its communities.


In the book Cities of Collective Memory, author Christine Boyer chronicles how early forms of art, entertainment and cultural celebrations influenced the architecture, design and creation of historic public space and civic places. Her writings explain how events, ceremonies and their associated pageantry were products of their cultural environments. She writes that today these special places have become containers of our collective civic memories, connecting us to our past, which, in part, forms our identity. She is rightfully critical of modern urban developments that combine elements from previous eras, haphazardly recombining them out of context, time, and environment to create places without meaning.


One could point to the architects and developers of residential developments labeled as “New Urbanism” with their simulated main streets and replicas of historic civic structures as culprits. This is not an attack on a historic town form that follows certain patterns of urban land division—town squares, homes on narrow lots, front porches facing pedestrian sidewalks, and rear-yard parking accessed by neighbor-friendly alleys. Far from it. Continue Reading »

Posted August 19th, 2013 in Uncategorized by Rick Hill

Dithyrambalina11In my last post, I discussed the historical symbiotic relationship between art, fashion, entertainment, and commerce. I shared with you how art, technology, and design have inspired some of our most creative and original community spaces, including the very early shopping malls designed by Victor Gruen.


Urban revitalization and rebirth occurs in short and dramatic creative flourishes stimulated by discoveries, technology breakthroughs, and innovations that generate an influx of capital and people from diverse backgrounds. The mixing of money, people, opportunity, and the lack of accommodating social institutions, inspires the human imagination to achieve great leaps in creativity, resulting in city transformations.

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Posted August 11th, 2013 in Uncategorized by Rick Hill

louisvuittonIn my last post, I shared with you my vision of the enclosed shopping mall of the future, depicting it as a consumer sanctuary that will subtly nourish our senses and enhance our experience of being human. I described fluid spaces formed with new technology and materials incorporating light, water, botanical gardens, music, and art.


For hundreds of years, the relationship between art, fashion, entertainment, and commerce has been one of symbiosis. The celebrated showman P.T. Barnum understood this relationship well. In the 1860s, Barnum suggested to his friend R. H. Macy that he put his cherished collection of mechanical toys in the windows of Macy’s flagship New York department store at Christmastime.


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Posted August 1st, 2013 in Uncategorized by Rick Hill

512f8b8db3fc4ba0ee000185_new-york-s-telescopic-culture-shed-_culture_shed_01_view_from_high_line_at_30th_st-528x413In my last post, I discussed the threat of internet shopping to the modern shopping mall, and I suggested the complete rethinking of shopping-center designs by owners and developers.


We must conceive of the built marketplace through a different way of thinking, one that challenges the very notion of a fixed brick-and-mortar place. We must envision something that is adaptable, varied, flexible, dynamic, and fluid—something that can accommodate a far more dynamic mix of shops. This cannot be achieved by building more space that requires a sledgehammer to change it.


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