A retail park (U.K., Ireland) or power center (North America) is an unenclosed shopping center with a typical range of 23,000 to 56,000 square metres (250,000 to 600,000 sq ft) of gross leasable area that usually contains three or more big box retailers and various smaller retailers (usually located in strip plazas) with a common parking area shared among the retailers. It is likely to have more money spent on features and architecture than a traditional big box shopping center.
Power centers in North America
The term "power center" is used among developers and retailers as industry jargon to describe a shopping complex, generally 23,000 to 56,000 square metres (250,000 to 600,000 sq ft) in area, that typically includes three or more freestanding anchor stores, separated by a minimal number of small specialty tenants, in which the anchors occupy 75–90% of the total area.
280 Metro Center in Colma, California is credited as the world's first power center. Local real estate developer Merritt Sher opened 280 Metro Center in 1986 as an open-air strip shopping center dominated by big-box stores and category killers. 280 Metro Center was a revolutionary development at a time when retail shopping in North America was dominated by enclosed shopping malls. By 1998, there were 313 power centers in the United States with a combined gross leasable area of 266 million square feet; together, they accounted for over five percent of national shopping center sales. The highest numbers of power centers were in the states of California and Florida.
In Canada, South Edmonton Common in Edmonton is the largest power centre, and one of the largest open-air retail developments in North America. Spread over 320 acres (1.3 km2), South Edmonton Common has more than 2,300,000 sq ft (210,000 m2) of gross leasable area.[non-primary source needed]
In recent years, it has become quite common for an older shopping mall to be renovated as (or replaced entirely by) a power center, adding big-box stores, category killers, and strip shopping center-type buildings to the parking and open areas, rather than to add anchors and new retail space to the existing mall facility. Puente Hills Mall and Del Amo Fashion Center in Southern California are good examples of this. Other examples are Seven Corners Shopping Center in suburban Washington, D.C. and Deerfoot Meadows in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Power centers are almost always located in suburban areas, but occasionally redevelopment has brought power centers to densely populated urban areas.
Vertical power centers
In environments where denser development is desirable, a power center may consist of multiple floors, with one or more big-box anchors on each floor, and floors of parking, all "stacked" vertically. Examples include:
- 10 Dundas East, Toronto
- City Point (Brooklyn)
- Dadeland Station (Miami)
- Metro Center (planned, East Village, San Diego)
- One Westside Place (West Los Angeles)
- Patio Santa Fe (Santa Fe, Mexico City)
Retail parks in the United Kingdom 
In the United Kingdom, the retail park is a similar concept to the North American power center. They are found on the fringes of most large towns and cities in highly accessible locations and are aimed at households owning a car, though there are often also bus services. They are an alternative to busy city centres. Such developments have been encouraged by cheaper, more affordable land on the outskirts of towns and cities, and with loose planning controls in a number of Enterprise Zones, making planning and development very easy. In recent years, in many areas across the UK, planning controls have been tightened to preserve the countryside. This has made it more difficult for such developments to proceed, resulting in many smaller, more compact retail parks, sometimes consisting of only three or four stores being built on former brownfield sites. There are also environmental disadvantages to large retail parks on the rural fringe, including the increased traffic and pollution that occurs during access.
Typically retail parks host a range of chain stores, including furniture, clothes or footwear superstores, electrical stores, carpet and others - and the anchor tenant is usually a supermarket. Owing to their out-of-town sites, abundance of free parking and proximity to major roads, retail parks are often easier to reach than central shopping areas, and as a result town centres are less attractive to retailers.
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