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September 4, 2012

Regency Centers Engages in Crowdsourcing to Lease Shopping Center in Baltimore

By Keith Loria, Contributing Editor

Regency Centers is experimenting with a new leasing phenomenon known as “crowdsourcing” in its efforts to lease space in its Parkville Shopping Center, located at 7709 Hartford Road in Baltimore, Md.

The company is asking people to recommend the stores and restaurants they want to see go into the center through an online crowdsourcing platform called Popularise.

Popularise was created last year by Washington D.C. commercial real estate investors, and brothers, Ben and Dan Miller, to encourage local communities to bring their market knowledge, ideas and support to actively shape their neighborhoods.

“The idea of using crowdsourcing for leasing leads has been out there for a while. Regency has been keeping an eye on this and we thought it was a very good idea,” Emily Ford, Regency Centers Corporation’s senior marketing manager, told Commercial Property Executive. “People are asked to submit an idea and they can choose from categories or create their own, and it can be a specific business name. People can then vote on them to express support.”

Parkville Shopping Center is a 161,734-square-foot neighborhood center anchored by Giant, that also includes a Rite Aid, Radioshack, Dollar Tree and the bowling center, Parkville Lanes.

Currently, the center is undergoing a $1.7 million renovation, which will include a new exterior façade and architectural elements, upgraded signage, improved landscaping and parking lot enhancements. Allowing shoppers to have a say in the stores going in seemed a logical step to the company.

“Crowdsourcing for us has two benefits; one is to get those ideas from the community to understand what they want to see from their center,” Ford said. “The other benefit is it helps the retailers in the center and their customers so they know what’s going on with the renovation and know their voice matters.”

The center’s retail space is currently 93 percent leased and they will use the ideas from the crowdsourcing to help them lease the remaining space. Two spaces are available: one is 5,180 square feet and the other is 4,600 square feet.

“One had been a restaurant before and we would consider putting another one in, but our leasing agent is open to any and all options,” Ford said. “It’s an established neighborhood shopping center and we are hoping to understand what the people who live and shop there want to see go in there. We want to do what’s best for the center.”

Built in 1961, Parkville Shopping Center was renovated in 1999, and Regency purchased the property in 2005. The center has had 95 percent average occupancy over the last five years.

“Crowdsourcing is a new term, but asking customers about their shopping preferences has always been integral to strong tenant merchandising,” said Jack deVilliers, leasing agent for Regency Centers. “The success depends upon the number of people who engage with the site and the quality of leads. We hope to uncover local or regional favorites that will add further charm to a neighborhood center that has been part of the area for more than 50 years.”

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