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The Secret to Smooth Mixed-Use Management

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When so many stakeholders are involved in a mixed-use property—retailers, residents and office workers—property management can be difficult. But constant communication keeps gears running smoothly. Federal Realty Investment Trust director of asset management Mickey Papillon shares his best practices.

The Secret to Smooth Mixed-Use Management

Having an environment that provides a better quality of life is critical, and experiences need to be top-notch, Mickey says—whether it’s creating a vibrant streetscape or bringing in retail that’s the right fit for the neighborhood. Tenants at Federal Realty’s retail-based, mixed-use centers are so intertwined that the REIT prefers to call them neighborhoods, with properties like Assembly Row in Boston, Bethesda Row in Maryland and Santana Row in San Jose. When it has a neighborhood feel, people invest in and remain loyal to the community, he says.

The Secret to Smooth Mixed-Use Management

Generally, properties like Bethesda Row (above—one of the seven Mickey manages) have many residents who have been there for 10 to 15 years. “They become your ambassadors, which helps you sell the property,” he says. So forging relationships with those residents is important—especially the vocal ones, who can provide critical feedback. (He even encourages residents to send him emails and photos.) On the office side, he introduces himself to office managers, presidents and owners, asking them to share their stories. He has one executive who rides his bike to the office every day and loves Santana Row's accessibility so much that he’s happy to talk to potential tenants looking at the property, Mickey notes.

The Secret to Smooth Mixed-Use Management

Being a property manager also means being a connector (above, Federal Realty's Pentagon Row in Arlington, VA). “For a retailer, we can be part of your marketing plan,” he says. In talking to retailers, he’s bonded them with residents and office workers—perhaps through a restaurant offering 10% off a meal or a clothier holding a trunk show in one of the residential buildings. “It’s fun watching how they interact with each other,” he says. The property management teams also facilitate shared events—for instance, they might set up a happy hour or catered event in the office space using eateries from the neighborhood. The retailers get exposure, and the office workers don’t feel like they’re being solicited, he says.