Breaking the Mold of
Retail Real Estate
Published December 3, 2019
How would you best describe AREA15?
AREA15 is a mall-inspired, immersive retail entertainment facility. By mall-inspired, I mean that it’s open to everyone, whereby it’s free to enter and there’s free parking. However, the difference between AREA15 and a mall is that, once you come in, you enter an immersive world with experiential retail tenants. About 8% of the retailers will consist of traditional stores, such as gift shops. However, the other 92% will be event space, blended in with immersive-type retailers.
AREA15 aims to deliver a unique retail experience,
unlike traditional shopping malls.
Blue Man Group co-founder Chris Wink (left) is
AREA15's Director of Content and Cool Sh*t.
Meow Wolf is our anchor tenant, with a 50,000 square foot space. In addition to a food hall, the facility will include an arcade, axe throwing, a wedding chapel, multiple art installations, a music hall, and even an activation created by Chris Wink, the co-founder of the Blue Man Group and now AREA15’s Director of Content and Cool Sh*t. AREA15 will host private corporate events, as well as music and food festivals that are open to the general public. The main factor to consider when thinking about AREA15 is that we are fusing all of these elements that I mentioned with art and creativity to create a unique consumer experience.
"Rather than discussing architecture, our concept was more focused
on creating a vibe, a direction and a purpose."
Art gallery Meow Wolf is AREA15's anchor tenant,
surrounded by unique retailers and entertainment space.
How did the concept of AREA15 come to be, and what were the factors that inspired the property's unique characteristics?
We’ve owned the land for a long time, and in spite of the tough times that the region went through, we never gave up on the possibility of a unique project coming to fruition. When I met Michael Beneville, Chief Creative Officer of AREA15, we brainstormed for a few years about what this project could be. Rather than discussing architecture, our concept was more focused on creating a vibe, a direction and a purpose. We went through many iterations of AREA15, which incorporated factors such as execution and not competing with The Strip. We took our passions, including elements such as music and arts festivals, comic books, and just cool sh*t, melded them with the changing nature of retail, entertainment, the consumer experience and human interaction to come up with this concept.
"We’re in no way competing with The Strip, but rather complimenting it, especially with its close proximity, right off the I-15."
Why was Las Vegas chosen as the location for this development?
The Las Vegas region has a population of 2.3 million and is a very creative community. There’s certainly a lot to do on The Strip and in certain pockets, but we felt that we lacked something unique for the local population to enjoy. At the same time, we knew that this would also attract visitors to Las Vegas, as well as corporations, all who are looking for something unique. We’re in no way competing with The Strip, but rather complimenting it, especially with its close proximity, right off the I-15.
A view of AREA15 from the I-15 in its early construction phase.
"This is practically a new class of real estate."
Is it your intent to rollout other AREA15-type properties in other cities?
Absolutely. We’ve identified two sites that we hope to announce very soon. Our goal is to have 40-50 AREA15’s around the world. It’s a great way to create a following of people that visit the different AREA15’s, as well as for artists to rotate their exhibits across the different properties. Event organizers could also host multi-city events in the various AREA15 facilities. There’s a lot of innovation that comes with scale.
AREA15 could become a model for the
ailing retail property sector to up its game.
How do you feel that this property design and concept will influence new developments in the region and across the country?
I think a lot of people are waiting to see if we’ll be successful, but it should be influential. Especially in the beginning, it may be difficult for many of them to wrap their heads around the concept.
It’s exciting to work on something that has never been done before. In fact, it’s very rare to get that opportunity, especially in property development. This is practically a new class of real estate.
But this is not just about a new class of real estate; we’ve created a new operating business, which is creating a deep relationship with the customer. Our goal is to protect the story behind AREA15. The inspiration behind this project is not another real estate company, but rather something more along the lines of Walt Disney. Realistically, we’ve just built a bunker. However, it’s the story and the experience of that bunker that makes it stand out from the rest.
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