West Towne Mall, located in Madison, Wisconsin, is one of many shopping centers throughout the U.S. that was once anchored by a Sears store and is now undergoing significant redevelopment by Seritage Growth Properties (Seritage). Shopping centers such as West Towne are at a turning point as investors aim to revitalize the outdated concept of major department stores serving as shopping center anchors. The Sears store buildings are being transformed into an extension of the shopping center itself, with internal corridors and multiple tenants as well as improved internal and external pedestrian visibility and access. Offering a mix of retail, dining and unique entertainment options has become increasingly popular among consumers. As a result, West Towne, for example, has opened a new Dave & Buster’s and Total Wine, with other uses in the planning stages.
Seritage began working with raSmith shortly after they acquired the Sears retail portfolio from Sears Holdings Corp. raSmith has a long history and strong reputation for providing quality work to the shopping center industry for more than 40 years. Our experience has evolved into providing civil engineering, land surveying and related services for more than 140 shopping center projects nationwide. As a result of our unique and diverse capabilities, raSmith is able to provide Seritage with development management, land surveying, traffic analysis, civil engineering and landscape architecture on their projects. Seritage has chosen raSmith to lead site design, entitlements, permitting and project management of these Sears redevelopment projects.
Structural engineers in raSmith’s Madison office developed creative solutions for building entrances and façades, such as the exposed steel trellis and the large expanse of glass seen on West Towne’s Total Wine building. raSmith’s civil engineers, traffic engineers and landscape architects have worked closely with Seritage to upgrade the parking and lighting layout to meet current standards for ADA accessibility and compliance, improve traffic circulation, provide aesthetically pleasing landscaping and lighting, and enhance curb appeal for the newly developed multiple tenant storefronts of the Sears big box retail buildings. The Sears sites were mostly developed during the 1960s, a time during which code standards were less restrictive. The sites were over parked with very little landscaping and little to no stormwater management or best management practices for water quality and volume control. On many of these sites, raSmith has designed bioretention basins to enhance water quality and improve stormwater management.
raSmith has provided consulting engineering services to Seritage on projects in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. One of the Seritage projects that raSmith recently designed that will be under construction in fall 2019 is Orland Square Mall, a 1.2-million-square-foot shopping center in suburban Chicago (Orland Park). The addition of an AMC theater will anchor the redevelopment of the Sears store at Orland Square, with several other exciting initiatives planned in the coming months.