It is never too early to start informally talking to key anchors during the design phase. Anchors make or break a project and everything depends on their commitment. Unfortunately for the developer, this puts anchors in a very strong negotiating position. Making sure the project meets key anchor’s requirements such as servicing and parking is basic due diligence.
Further along in the process, other key retailers should be consulted to ensure they are onboard with the project’s design and specifications. Key locations may be reserved for target brands to ensure their commitment.
In some retail centres, it is clear that designers had so much influence over a project that basic retail principles were blatantly ignored. Talking to tenants throughout the process and understanding their needs is an important step in preventing a project from veering off course.
For municipalities looking to improve retail streets, talking with existing tenants is a basic step which is often poorly undertaken. Small business owners are too busy to attend public meetings. Planners should actively be on the street talking directly to store owners about their concerns and the direction they think the area needs to move. Business Improvement Area (BIA) organizations are one of the best tools for linking retailers directly with government officials.