Our new class of Retail associates

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With ICSC Chicago Deal Making in the rearview mirror, JLL’s starting lineup of Retail associates sat down with us to talk trends, submarkets and their favorite places for retail therapy.

Zac Lewinski

Lewinski Zac

What part of the city do you live in and where do you like to shop?

I live in the western suburbs in Medinah. If I’m home, you’ll find me shopping at Oakbrook Center. When I’m downtown, I like to explore the stores on Michigan Avenue and State Street. If you’re looking to stay on-trend at a new, upstart retailer in Chicago, check out Shinola in Bucktown for watches, bicycles and leather goods.

What’s Chicago’s most up-and-coming retail submarket?

The West Loop. Expect to see larger national tenants testing the waters in the area, which has become a tech office mecca and is beginning to establish itself as a retail presence in Chicago. Everyone is swarming around the neighborhood, but the floodgates will really open once a big name brand takes that first step.

What’s the biggest retail trend nobody is talking about?

The pop-up shop. It’s an innovative way to use empty space and carries a low financial commitment for retailers looking to short-term test the success of particular locations. Canadian retailer Kit and Ace is trying one in the West Loop for one year to evaluate its prospects in the market.

What retailers will we see growing in Chicago in 2016?

Fast casual dining options will continue to dominate as a growth market in Chicago retail, with the biggest need in the West Loop. South African chain Nando’s has been a prime mover in this space with three locations already open around Chicago, and a unique example of an out-of-town retailer entering the city in a young market like the West Loop.

What’s your favorite retailer space in Chicago and why?

The Nike flagship at 669 N. Michigan Ave. Like other successful big brand flagships that “just do it,” the space and customer experience do a great job marketing the brand. The size and scale of flagships may not correlate to comparable in-store sales, but the positive effects on brand identity are immeasurable and difficult to achieve via online channels alone.

Daniel Grasso

What part of the city do you live in and where do you like to shop?

I live in West Town and enjoy shopping in Bucktown around Milwaukee, North and Damen. The two blocks of Damen just north of the six-corner intersection are becoming one of the hottest apparel destinations for people living west of the Kennedy. Stores like Marine Layer, Fjällräven and Shinola do a great job of catering to the 25- to 35-year-old demographic.

What’s Chicago’s most up-and-coming retail submarket?

West Loop/Fulton Market. Randolph has become the Restaurant Row of Chicago with many new, high-end restaurants that have jump-started the birth of the West Loop destination. While there are still more restaurants that will find their way to Randolph, Lake Street is becoming very attractive to retailers. The growth in both the residential and office markets of the West Loop is making the Lake Street/Fulton Market district a must-see on any retail tour.

What’s the biggest retail trend nobody is talking about?

Specialty gyms that focus on personal training, not big box gyms. I’m seeing a surge in new gym locations specializing in small classes and personal training, particularly in areas like the West Loop, where a lot of industrial and flex spaces are conducive to fitness conversions.

What retailers will we see growing in Chicago in 2016?

While fast casual dining continues to be a fast-growing trend in the city and suburbs, there is also a boom in medical outpatient and dental facilities as our healthcare industry changes and operators gain a better understanding of the new facets of the Affordable Care Act.

What’s your favorite retailer space in Chicago and why?

Living in West Town, I am excited to see the transformation of the area as new restaurants enter the market. My favorite local Italian spot is La Scarola at Grand and Halsted. They serve fantastic, authentic food at a fair price.

Joaquin Manriquez

JoaquinManriquez

What part of the city do you live in and where do you like to shop?

I live in Lincoln Park and like to make the most of the great retail right where I live, particularly around Clark and Diversey. Costco is also a guilty pleasure.

What’s Chicago’s most up-and-coming retail submarket?

Hyde Park. The South Side has an allure to it not found in North Side neighborhoods. Similar to Bushwick (Brooklyn) in New York, there is a vibrant arts culture and a young, diverse population around the University of Chicago. The city’s swelling young professional population will seek lower-cost housing in new, non-traditional neighborhoods. An influx of residential growth will spur the development of Hyde Park’s retail pockets and you’ll see more national retailers enter the submarket to join local businesses.

What’s the biggest retail trend nobody is talking about?

The election and its effect on regulation, interest rates and retailer appetite for expansion. What will be done to encourage small business growth? We have a habit of calling the same national prospects for every shopping center and we’ll need to get more creative, finding smaller, local operators with great concepts and helping them grow. The outcome of the next election will play a huge role in determining how friendly the economic environment is to these smaller businesses.

What retailers will we see growing in Chicago in 2016?

We have become such a service-oriented, aesthetically driven culture with an emphasis on maintaining a polished image in today’s digital, highly visible world. I see growth opportunities for retailers that cater to, pamper and beautify their consumers. That includes experiential, customized experiences like Bonobos, Trumaker and Trunk Club as well as operators like barber shops and boutique fitness concepts. These retailers tend to leverage social media much more effectively, amplifying their marketing presence through consumers’ posts.

What’s your favorite retailer space in Chicago and why?

I love Harper Court in Hyde Park – the neighborhood has been historically underserved in terms of retail and this development brings a new energy and excitement to the shopping, dining and entertainment scene.

Tom Walsh

Walsh Thomas

What part of the city do you live in and where do you like to shop?

I live in Uptown and do most of my shopping at Target and Jewel. For dress clothes I like Express and OFF 5TH.

What’s Chicago’s most up-and-coming retail submarket?

Andersonville is seeing a big uptick in retail activity and restaurant growth with new entrants like Goddess and Grocer, Replay and Cantina 1910. Interestingly, most of the food scene is one-off concepts, not chains, by reputable local operators. Instead of making mirror images of a first successful location, restauranteurs are playing into the specialty trend. It’s not about having 50 of the same store anymore, rather an eclectic mix with concepts unique to their neighborhoods.

What’s the biggest retail trend nobody is talking about?

Ramen is still hot, along with pizza and coffee. I’m following the rise of upscale, Australian-style coffee on the coasts and expect it will hit the Chicago market soon. Most people don’t realize Australians pioneered the flat white, now a Starbucks staple. People prefer their food with a side of buzzwords: specialty, artisanal and local.

What retailers will we see growing in Chicago in 2016?

My bet’s on fast-fire pizza places like Blaze, Pie Five and Pieology. I’m also seeing an increasing number of restaurants like Freshii and Protein Bar, following the “good for you” trend.

What’s your favorite retailer space in Chicago and why?

City Target on State Street. It was the first City Target in the country and it represents ultimate convenience set inside the gorgeous, historic Sullivan Center (former home of Carson, Pirie, Scott). I’m also interested in checking out soon-to-be-open Latinicity, the next big food hall after Eataly. Given its central location in Block 37 near Millennium Park, it should get the same volume of tourist traffic.

Jose Gonzalez

Gonzalez Jose

What part of the city do you live in and where do you like to shop?

I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago but currently live in Elmhurst. I love to cook (breads, pizzas, desserts, anything), so you’ll always find me in a Williams Sonoma be it in Oakbrook Center, Old Orchard or Lincoln Park.

What’s Chicago’s most up-and-coming retail submarket?

Logan Square with its flourishing community of local, independent retailers. Talented young chefs are opening concepts in the area thanks to its affordable rents and and their commitment to developing around a neighborhood’s charm, which makes Chicago great. Every few blocks you find a vibrant market and culture.

What’s the biggest retail trend nobody is talking about?

You are starting to see more and more medical tenants taking retail space. Owners love the financial stability and the tenants love the exposure. I think we’re just getting started with immediate care, physical therapy, dialysis, dentists and eye care entering the retail world.

What retailers will we see growing in Chicago in 2016?

Not retail, per say, but like I said we’re going to see a continued ramp-up of medical uses growing in retail spacaes to make the most of their foot traffic and proximity to dense populations.

What’s your favorite retailer space in Chicago and why?

Dusek’s, recent recipient of its first Michelin star, within the impeccably restored Thalia Hall. I’ve also been enjoying the recently renovated Chicago Athletic Association hotel and its dining options, another nod to Chicago’s rich architectural history.

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