Retail park

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A retail park in Besançon, France
10 Dundas East in Toronto, a vertical power center with big box stores on multiple floors

A retail park (U.K., Ireland) or power center (North America)[1] 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[2] 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.[1]

Power centers in North America[edit]

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.[3][4]

280 Metro Center in Colma, California, which is credited as the first power center, opened in 1986 as an open-air strip shopping complex composed of discount and warehouse retailers.[5] A possible earlier example, Northern Lights Shopping Center in Economy, Pennsylvania, which opened in 1962, could be considered to qualify as a power center based on square footage and number of anchors,[original research?] having had four anchors and 609,405 square feet (57,000 m2) of leaseable space until the 2006 demolition of its former J. C. Penney store.[6]

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.[7][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.[8] 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.

Some new power center developments have attempted to re-create the atmosphere of an old-town Main Street, with varying levels of success.[citation needed]

Dadeland Station, a vertical power center in Miami

Vertical power centers[edit]

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:

Retail parks in the United Kingdom [edit]

Lady Bay Retail Park in Nottingham, UK
The Buywell Retail Park, on the Thorp Arch Trading Estate in West Yorkshire is unusual in being set in converted factory bunkers with grassed roofs, used in World War II.[citation needed]

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.[12] 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.[citation needed]

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.[13]

Kingsway West Retail Park in Dundee, Scotland.[citation needed]
Kingsway West Retail Park in Dundee, Scotland, featuring a typical layout with the anchor store - in this case a Tesco hypermarket, with several large format retailers surrounding an expanse of customer parking and traffic access.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Garbarine, Rachelle (August 15, 1999). "The New Goal at Retail Power Centers: Eye Appeal; Bowing to demands by towns to give more attention to design". The New York Times. p. RE9. Archived from the original on 2017-09-12.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Bennett, Jane (July 4, 2003). "Gate plans retail". Jacksonville Business Journal. Archived from the original on 2008-11-18.
  4. ^ "Commercial Real Estate Glossary". R.L. Travers & Associates. Springfield, Virginia. 2018. Archived from the original on 2018-10-30.
  5. ^ Levy, Michael; Weitz, Barton A. (2009). Retailing Management (7th ed.). McGraw-Hill Irwin. ISBN 978-0-07-128424-0.
  6. ^ Two of the remaining three anchors were vacant as of 2014, and the center (which largely became more of a traditional community-style strip mall since the early 2000s) is generally considered a dead mall due to its high vacancy rate. Parrish, Tory N. (September 30, 2012). "Work on Wal-Mart supercenter set to begin in Beaver County". Tribune-Review. Trib Total Media. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  7. ^ "About Us". South Edmonton Common. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  8. ^ "Seven Corners Business Area". Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Bromley, Rosemary D. F.; Thomas, Colin J. (24 May 1988). "Retail Parks: Spatial and Functional Integration of Retail Units in the Swansea Enterprise Zone". Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 13 (1): 4–18. doi:10.2307/622771. JSTOR 622771.
  13. ^ Kollewe, Julia (16 April 2012). "Blow to UK high street as more retailers move out of town". the Guardian.

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