It's quality, not quantity, for urban entertainment

June 01, 2001 |

A new trend in urban entertainment projects emphasizes quality over quantity, with developments offering a variety of uses and designs that reflect the character of the community, according to participants at Urban Land Institute's recent Urban Entertainment Development conference, held in Beverly Hills, Calif.

"We don't need a new generation of malls with multiple movie screens and theme-based restaurants," says Kenneth A. Himmel, conference chairman and CEO of New York City's The Palladium Co. "We need more places with character, that reflect local history and culture."

Developments need to have enough variety to attract daytime as well as evening visitors, say developers, and enough local flavor to draw residents, not just tourists. Some participants favor making sports venues or museums the centerpieces of entertainment planning.

Late last year, for example, Palladium opened CityPlace, a 600,000-sq.-ft., $375 million mixed-use development in West Palm Beach, Fla. Residential, hotel, office, conference and cultural facilities are built around a historic church that was converted into a performing arts center.

In Dallas, the recently completed American Airlines Center — future home of professional basketball and hockey teams — will anchor the 10 million-sq.-ft. Victory entertainment destination, being developed by Ross Perot Jr. of Hillwood Development Co. and Tom Hicks, owner of the Dallas Stars hockey team and the Texas Rangers baseball team. The 72-acre downtown brownfield site will be built up with office, hotel, retail, residential and entertainment facilities.

"These projects should be part of the cityscape," says David Moreno, senior vice president of Venice, Calif.-based The Jerde Partnership International (JPI). "This is about creating memorable places. … You want people to come just because they enjoy being there, not just to shop."

JPI recently partnered with Salt Lake City-based The Boyer Co. to develop The Gateway, a 2 million-sq.-ft. mixed-use entertainment project in downtown Salt Lake City. Centerpiece of the destination is the historic Union Pacific Depot.

Elsewhere, new urban entertainment projects include: 600,000-sq.-ft. Gallery Place, adjacent to MCI Center in Washington, D.C.; and Cinerama Dome, to be built around the historic Hollywood, Calif., building on Sunset Boulevard.

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