How to Activate Under Retailed Areas


As seen in Globe Street

LAS VEGAS—Activation of a ground floor retail space is crucial to making a space viable as a long term retail component says JRT’s Jodi Pulice and Greg Smith in this EXCLUSIVE Q&A on the subject.

LAS VEGAS—Temporary pop-up vendors are a tremendous positive component to a property. That is according to JRT’s Jodi Pulice, founder and CEO, and Greg Smith, president of JRT Realty Group Inc. who recently chatted with about growth and development in areas that are lacking in retail services. JRT Realty Group does a lot of work in Long Island City and the Bronx, two areas with rapid growth and development but lacking in retail services. What are the factors that you see contributing to that lack of retail?

Greg Smith: LIC and the Bronx have large sections of industrial zoned space, which does easily lend itself to retail activity. Properties in these specific areas do not have retail components; and thus, the lack of street traffic in not conducive to retail. In an under-retailed area how do you communicate the benefits of that neighborhood to a potential commercial tenant? To a retail tenant?

Jodi Pulice: Commercial tenants can be persuaded to secure space in new under-retailed areas, but they need assurances that retail components will be forthcoming in these areas. And retailers can only be persuaded to be a pioneer, if a landlord works with them to build a presence that can attract the retail’s consumer base. Are there any programming initiatives that JRT gets involved in that activate these areas on a temporary basis?

Smith: Activation of a ground floor retail space is crucial to making a space viable as a long term retail component. Bringing food trucks to a property, having food vendors set up temporary food service areas in a parking lot (if available), installing polo-up food vendors (local, artisanal) is vital to creating a dynamic mix of retail and office in a converted neighborhood. Food and retail enhances the office experience and more office workers inject excitement into the retail sphere. Do you find that temporary activations like this have a positive impact on leasing?

Smith: Temporary pop up vendors are a tremendous positive component to a property. They allow pop-up vendors the opportunity to build their businesses in the local community and the strength of the retail has a direct correlation on increased office rents. Do these temporary activations increase the likelihood of these retailers or food purveyors being a more permanent part of the neighborhood?

Pulice: In our experience, these pop-up vendors become fully immersed in their neighborhood as they begin to see their businesses grow as the community evolves. They seek to secure long term lease commitments as they realize the retail potential. How do you determine what the retail needs are in these rapidly evolving residential neighborhoods? Do you engage with local residents through community boards or tenants associations and the like?

Smith: We work with local business partnerships and artisanal food kitchens to establish a cross section of food and drink vendors that are sought after by a given community. In these areas, which types of tenants tend to be most successful?

Pulice: Tenants want simple but price appropriate fare -sandwich options, juice choices, and local coffee roasteries, are all a part of the mix. Local artisanal food and drink is the more attractive alternative.