This past year was a building year for Centennial – both literally and figuratively. From executing major additions at our centers to improving internal systems and processes, we continue to create distinct experiences and economic opportunities for our consumers, tenants, clients and partners. We have laid significant groundwork to further position ourselves for the future and, specifically, to commence our key redevelopment projects.
I’d like to share some recent highlights and extend my personal appreciation for your valuable contributions to our growing company.
Maximized the Centennial Team
- Expanded our human resources department and hired a director of HR.
- Continued to build our leadership, accounting and property teams to ensure we have the right talent across the organization to effectively run the business.
Responsible Corporate Citizenship
- Created a Centennial Way committee to engage employees and breathe life into our corporate values of integrity, respect, excellence, passion and innovation.
- Continued to expand our sustainability efforts through SEE Centennial. Added electric vehicle charging stations in partnership with Volta and Tesla, diverted 1 million tons of cardboard from landfills, and continued ongoing system and equipment retrofits for energy use and cost reduction.
- Organized our corporate community engagement. Employees shopped to fulfill wishes for abused and neglected children, collected winter coats for the homeless, and provided performance space to local arts groups.
Notable Grand Openings
- Boscov’s, the largest family-owned department store chain in the country, opened at Connecticut Post on October 6. The addition has already increased mall traffic 30% over last year.
- Dave & Buster’s opened at Connecticut Post Mall on November 5. The 35,000 sf facility features arcade games, sports viewing, food and more.
- Barbara’s Bookstore opened at Hawthorn Mall on November 21. Barbara’s has earned a reputation in Chicago for high-quality inventory and informed service. Joining Barbara’s in the 29,000-square-foot, two-story space, is Hansa Coffee Roasters, a specialty roaster/retailer with cafes in Libertyville and Lake Bluff.
- Urban Air Adventure Park opened at Brazos Mall on December 8. The first 200 guests in line received free access for one year with purchase of an Ultimate Attractions Pass.
Successes in Leasing
- Reopened new store prototypes for Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Aeropostale, Charlotte Russe, Zumiez and Forever 21, as well as a new PGA Superstore in a former Babies R Us building.
- Added several restaurants to the tenant mix: Los Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant at Vancouver, Crab Crackin’ Cajun Restaurant at Fox Valley, and Chef Yan Can Cook at Hawthorn.
- Centennial specialty permanent leasing had a total of 133 retailers across the portfolio in 2018 representing an increase of 49 local stores over 2017. These localized entrepreneurs are the incubators for tomorrow’s permanent tenants and the increase is indicative of the industry shift to offer more flexible terms to showcase new ideas and groundbreaking trends.
- Completed major portions of redevelopment of Brazos Mall, including the opening of TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Ulta and Encore Shoes.
- Created a partnership with Lowe Enterprises to pursue non-retail opportunities within our mall portfolio.
- Embraced as an opportunity the bankruptcy and subsequent closure announcements of Carson’s/BonTons and Sears to masterplan our assets holistically through the acquisition of these boxes (over 764,000 sf of space throughout the portfolio).
- Advanced the planning and design phase for MainPlace, Hawthorn and Fox Valley.
Accomplishments in Marketing
- Utilized new national marketing platforms including Creative Design and Social Media Playbook.
- Earned a Maxi Silver Mark Award in Emerging Technology Excellence for our Augmented Reality program.
Improved Internal Systems and Processes
- Continued to enhance Yardi reporting and updated critical financial and operational reports.
- Improved communications with our partners by standardizing the reporting process to provide meaningful information on a quarterly basis.
Finally, I can’t share highlights without also reflecting on some difficult times: the passing of Deborah Georgetti-Piro back in October and JB Schutte in March.
Deborah was Centennial’s senior vice president of business development and her exuberant personality and passion for our industry continues to be sorely missed. JB was the GM at Vancouver Mall. His guidance, servant leadership, and stewardship will be dearly missed by everyone at Centennial and in the local community.
I’m extremely proud of who we are as a company. As the market evolves, our collective creativity, execution capabilities and work quality will continue to transform today’s real estate into tomorrow’s mixed-use, dominant destinations.