CocoWalk is an iconic development in the heart of Coconut Grove, but it isn’t quite keeping pace with Coconut Grove’s renaissance. Thankfully, the new owners have some ideas on bringing new life to the destination for dining and entertainment.
Federal Realty Investment Trust made acquired an 80% stake in CocoWalk with joint venture partners Grass River Property and Comras Company in May. The companies paid $88 million, which valued the 198,000-square-foot lifestyle center and have plans to make more investments.
GlobeSt.com caught up with Chris Weilminster, executive vice president of Real Estate Leasing for Federal, to get an inside look at how the companies plan to change CocoWalk.
GlobeSt.com: How do you and your JV partners plan to change CocoWalk?
Weilminster: Looking at CocoWalk from a national perspective, it’s clear the property has lagged behind the Grove’s resurgence. The good news is that there’s a strong urban infrastructure in place.
We plan to improve the asset by adding new local, regional and national tenants and creating more connectivity with surrounding streets. Everything is on the table so long as it adds value to the experience for our tenants, neighbors and visiting customers.
This will take time. But Federal has a long track record of success with projects in similar neighborhoods, such as Bethesda Row in Maryland, where most people can’t tell where our property ends and the City’s begins.
GlobeSt.com: What are the prevailing trends in retail right now, and how do Coconut Grove and CocoWalk fit into the mix?
Weilminster: We’re seeing an overall shift toward walkable, lifestyle-centric retail destinations and away from traditional suburban malls. Consumers and families are looking for experiences, be it a pedestrian-friendly environment with great amenities, unique and varied restaurant concepts or a wide array of local and national boutiques.
This trend is unfolding nationwide at places like the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California and we’re seeing it take shape in Miami. Coconut Grove offers these characteristics in a walkable, pedestrian friendly setting.
Our plan is to capitalize on the neighborhood’s bohemian vibe and integrate those attributes into CocoWalk with a comprehensive re-merchandising plan, physical upgrades to the existing buildings and marketing and events focused on the surrounding community. These efforts will be unique to CocoWalk and the Grove’s authentic experience, as we know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this property and community.