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 October 14th, 2014 in Bardstown, Blog by Rick Hill

The Kentucky Standard’s August 3, 2014 editorial on Bardstown’s sign ordinances and regulations failed to address the underlying problem: the confusing and often illegible document that governs sign regulation in Bardstown, Kentucky.


Simply put, our sign regulation system is broken. This is obvious from a cursory look into the sign ordinances and regulations available on the City of Bardstown and the Joint City County Planning Commission websites. The format of the sign regulation is totally disorganized. Its language is repetitive and vague. Even more embarrassing, the document is rife with poor grammar, incomplete statements and ambiguous terms. What “experts” put this regulation together in the first place and how has it survived in its current form for so many years? Anyone who believes the document provides clear communication and offers a reflection of our community’s standards has obviously not read it. Continue Reading »

Posted October 14th, 2014 in Bardstown, Blog by Rick Hill
Village People or Village Idiots?

Village People or Village Idiots?

You know it’s election season in Nelson County when you hear the chorus of political candidates singing Y-M-C-A. They pretend they represent the village people, but in actuality, they’re more like the village idiots.


Two comments made by candidates in recent debates especially stand out. First, a candidate mentioned that the county needs an indoor swim facility but argued that such a facility should not be part of a YMCA. Second, the same candidate suggested that a YMCA would compete with local fitness centers and argued that this is not something the county should encourage.
These statements clearly indicate that there is a big difference between knowing how to spell YMCA and understanding that a state-of-the-art YMCA could do a lot of good for our area.


We need a far more encompassing plan for community-wide health than a pool in a metal shed. And we’re not going to achieve communal fitness goals in a strip-mall fitness center with a dozen spinning machines. Have candidates even stepped into a state-of-the-art YMCA facility, with its focus on health and nutrition and its family-centered recreation, physical conditioning, strength, and therapeutic activities? One must assume not: If they had more than a passing familiarity with the types of amenities the Y offers, they would have never made their uninformed statements. Continue Reading »

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 March 10th, 2013 in Blog by Rick Hill

Industrial DistrictThe remnants of the industrial economy surround the downtowns of numerous major cities.  Tattered urban fabrics consisting of semi-industrial districts and modest housing often form a zone between first ring gentrified neighborhoods and the city core, producing an in-between waste land, lost economies and failed communities. Ironically, while urban revitalization efforts are directed to the showcase blocks of downtowns and hip new restaurants and specialty retail thrive in the historic suburban neighborhood, it is the in between zone that actually has the most potential for true economic development.
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Posted February 23rd, 2013 in Blog by Rick Hill

Alice'sContemporary film often reflects the sentiments of its audience and initiates varied emotions that are generated well beyond the subject matter of the movie itself. In this regard, the music, location, and lighting of the film can serve as a window into a deeper set of emotions and yearnings. This is for the simple reason that images and sounds link our consciousness with the unconscious to bring back memories of the past to reinforce the thoughts and feelings of the present.
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Posted February 3rd, 2013 in Blog by Rick Hill

little_red_schoolhouseIn the book Small Wonder, author Jonathan Zimmerman, covers the history of the one room school house and describes how the Little Red School House became an American icon. In his book he poses the question which asks if the school house is a relic or an enduring and relevant image of American Culture.
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