Advances in location technology are changing the way we consume and communicate with spatial data content. EDENS, a shopping center development company, is working with several technology partners to deliver a new way for its employees to visualize and access spatial data. Built on Esri ArcServer with Esri ArcSDE and designed specifically for the iPad, this new application delivers key spatial data to decision makers and dealmakers in the field. This new project incorporates best practices in GIS with an emphasis on mobile access to internal and external data.
EDENS’ primary mission is to create shopping centers that meet the retail, restaurant and service needs of the community. To accomplish this EDENS must understand the consumers in the trade area around each site and communicate this information to perspective retailers. EDENS must also understand the competition around each shopping center and be able to quickly gather and present information on each existing center, as well as ground up developments. The company has used GIS for over 13 years and has developed a system for gathering, analyzing and marketing location data. The leasing and development groups, in particular, have expertise in using GIS data and analysis in the leasing and marketing process.
Most of the GIS data access had previously been limited to the GIS desktop workstations. All competition aerial photographs, income maps, demographic reports and Esri LifeMode Segmentation analysis requests had to go through the GIS group. This new application, called FOReM, incorporates these spatial data. It also incorporates workflows that were once reserved for GIS analysts only. In addition to the GIS-ready data, the company set out to identify other internal data that have a spatial component.
Each shopping center that the company owns has a site plan with multiple data attributes for each unit. Site plans were incorporated into the project to give users the ability to have access to the latest site plan layouts as well as the latest data associated with each shopping center unit, such as square footage and lease expiration dates. The other significant spatial data source is called Marketplace. This internal database captures shopping center data from various sources as groups within the company look to purchase properties or when they come across market data at the center level. The shopping center locations have been pulled in to the system to provide links to this data, as well as demographics and contact information.
Having the ability to go from a macro view of the market down to the micro view of a shopping center space is significant because this is how the industry generally researches and markets available locations. In general, presentations to retailers in the commercial real estate industry start out at the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or city level and end at a shopping center or shopping center unit level. A large amount of spatial data is accessed and displayed on this journey and these presentations are usually in a static media such as PowerPoint or a brochure. This new application not only allows users to access and display these spatial data in the field but it also emulates the workflow and thinking that goes into the leasing, development and marketing process. The application should empower dealmakers to discover and share location attributes that directly affect the unique requirements of individual potential retailers.
An additional element of the project includes the incorporation of marketing kits. On demand, a marketing kit PDF can automatically be generated that includes shopping center information, such as current demographics, photos, the latest competition aerial photographs and the current site plan with tenant roster. This PDF can then be emailed from the field during a meeting with the retailer. Another unique feature is that users of the application can send an e-mail link to a Web brochure that has center information as well as detailed unit information on the units under discussion.
Version 1 of FOReM was presented first to the EDEN’s Florida real estate group in April. Since then it has also been rolled out to the Southeast group. Site plans for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast groups are still in the process of being converted from CAD into the ArcSDE geodatabase. The Florida group has really been driving the process of innovation on the project. This group has been testing the application in the field as well as with retailers at this past year’s International Conference of Shopping Centers (ICSC) RECon exhibition in Las Vegas, NV. Every few weeks, feedback from the group is gathered and incorporated into the development process for future releases. In preparation for the Florida ICSC in August, the automated marketing kits were used for the first time.
Future plans for the project include incorporation of the site plans into the website, as well as building in additional layers for the site plans and building a facilities management application.
“Our hope is that this application makes our organization more efficient by having one site plan feed out to various applications,” said David Z. Beitz, GIS director at EDENS. “Another primary benefit is that this application helps remove barriers to getting deals done. The more real-time data you can provide up front in the dealmaking process will help to improve the chances of closing a new lease. This application empowers our dealmakers to focus more on the deal and less on gathering all the information needed to present the deal.”
Technology partners on this project included GIS Incorporated and Truematter LLC.
EDENS develops, owns and operates neighborhood shopping centers in primary markets throughout the East Coast. Focusing on innovative development and redevelopment together with key acquisitions in urban areas, the company has built an institutional-quality portfolio of 124 retail centers. EDENS has regional headquarters in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami and Columbia, SC