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Is The Key To Austin's Retail Success Keeping It Weird?


It's a tough life for a retail developer in Austin. Hilly topography, serious parking regulations and zoning rules can make building difficult, and the limited number of sexy intersections at major highways make locating a tract challenging. 

And then it's a big challenge to get national retailers to come here, Edge Realty VP Cole Brodhead said. "You could roll out 10 or 15 stores in Dallas or Houston, but you can't do that here."

Edge works to find nationals that could drive car or foot traffic, but also leases to local shops in the same center that excite residents. The Keep Austin Weird phrase that the Austin Independent Business Alliance coined to keep residents spending retail dollars at local businesses is a wise strategy for tenanting those properties. It keeps Austin unique and keeps you from seeing the same shopping center over and over again, Brodhead said.

That formula works, not only for Edge but for the city. Retail occupancy sits around 96%, higher than most other Texas cities.

Edge Realty has historically repped landlords in power-anchored retail centers. This year,  Brodhead said they will focus a bit more on ground-floor retail in mixed-use projects, exposing Edge to more and more development.

Hear more from Brodhead and other retail execs at our Austin Retail Market Surge event on Jan. 24. Get tickets here.