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Land Planning And Design Services Are Redefining The Retail Development Process


For retailers, the process from initial site selection to store opening can be long and tedious. To meet a tight timeline and reach ambitious goals, more retailers are beginning to rely on land-planning services that create new methods for developing effective spaces.

Timmons Group, a civil engineering firm headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, is creating a new method. The firm’s Retail Development Program aims to make the multisite retail process easier for landowners and tenants.

“We know landowners and tenants have contractual obligations and strict deadlines,” Timmons Group principal Junie West said.“Where we provide value through the Retail Development Program is by being able to measure project risk and reward with the goal of decreasing risk thresholds as due diligence and site plans advance.” 

West leads the Retail Development Program at Timmons Group, and has worked with large retailers such as Publix, Panera Bread, Target and LIDL to help deliver multisite projects to completion. 

West’s team begins each retail development project by identifying its risks and rewards. Timmons Group’s project managers and program managers rely on a tier system to determine different phases of a multisite project. These tiers represent levels of risk for each stage in the development process.

The letter of intent for the transaction and the test fit are defined as tier 1, or the highest risk, while the construction and project delivery process falls under tier 5, the lowest possible risk. As the site plans advance, retailers can focus their time on program management instead of tending to the civil design.

When it comes to site design, developers often need to get creative. Zoning regulations and space restrictions, for instance, can provide barriers and force civil engineers to do more with less. In other scenarios, the planning and development team may have more space to work with, but specific thematic elements to implement.

For example, when the Watkins Centre in Chesterfield County, Virginia, was transformed into a lifestyle and entertainment center, Timmons Group was contracted to engineer and landscape the site in a way that would reflect the eventual master plan’s theme of community. The firm implemented an open space for public gathering and landscaped space for plants and native trees as a nod to the site’s past life as a nursery. 

“We understand tenant’s design requirements,” West said. “They are an intricate part of the Retail Development Program to ensure our clients expedited approvals, which ultimately leads to faster and timely project closings.” 

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and Timmons Group. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.