a shopkeeper exchanging a takeaway bag with a customer in a mixed use development

April 18, 2024

In the bustling metropolises of Australia’s largest cities, a new era of urban development is reshaping the cityscape, bringing together the convenience of modern living with the charm of vibrant retail communities. 

The integration of retail spaces within these new developments offer residents and hotel guests unprecedented convenience, with cafes, supermarkets, and restaurants just an elevator ride away. Gone are the days of trekking across town for essential groceries or morning pick-me-ups; here, everything residents need is right at their doorstep.

But it’s not just about convenience; it’s about fostering a sense of community and belonging. The proximity of retail spaces to residential towers creates an intimate bond between retailers and customers, who often live just floors apart. This close-knit relationship transforms mere transactions into meaningful interactions, where baristas know their regulars by name, and shopkeepers greet familiar faces with warm smiles. In an era where digital connections often overshadow real-world interactions, these retail precincts serve as modern-day gathering spots, where neighbours become friends and strangers become part of a shared community.

Moreover, in an age where time is of the essence and convenience is king, the desire for walkable amenities has never been greater. CBD residents crave the ease of having everything they need within walking distance of their homes. Whether it’s grabbing a quick coffee, meeting friends for dinner, the allure of strolling downstairs to find all one’s essentials is undeniable. 

Among the forefront of this trend are projects like West Side Place, Melbourne and Queen’s Wharf, Brisbane, where commerce thrives amidst bustling communities. To delve deeper into the allure of retailers leasing shops within such developments, we sat down with Gino Giacobbe, Far East Consortium’s Victorian Manager, Retail.

Gino’s capacity in retail property leasing is well demonstrated by his role in leasing 45 existing retail shops at Upper West Side and West Side Place – Stage 1, both in the Melbourne CBD. Despite constraints from the pandemic, he has still assisted retailers to maximise sales through innovation and fostering community.

As well as preleasing future FEC Melbourne developments including 640 Bourke, Gino maintains full oversight over the Victorian Retail Portfolio, such as development planning, lease administration, finance, fit-outs, and retail management.

Before joining FEC, Gino worked across a wide variety of retail assets in Melbourne,in roles covering retail management, facilities management, leasing, and development.

He has a Bachelor of Property and Real Estate (with a major in sustainability) from Deakin University and a Certificate IV in Property from RMIT. Gino holds a full Victorian Estate Agents Licence.


Seizing Unique Opportunities

“At the heart of West Side Place lies a strategic positioning of retail opportunities along the ground floor, strategically designed to capture the attention of the bustling foot traffic prevalent in Melbourne’s CBD,” Gino says.

There is a careful balance between prominence and exclusivity, emphasising that while space is limited, it offers a higher chance of profitability for retailers. Moreover, the meticulous curation of the retail mix ensures a harmonious coexistence, avoiding predatory competition and prioritising the success of retail partners.


Embracing Density and Diversity

The appeal of developments like West Side Place and Queen’s Wharf, Brisbane lies not only in their architectural grandeur but also in their high-density residential environments. 

“Vibrant communities thrive within these precincts, as thousands of residents and visitors converge to create a diverse and dynamic atmosphere,” Gino says.

Retailers who embrace this sense of community often find themselves flourishing, integrating themselves by purchasing or renting apartments within the development. This community-centric approach not only drives growth but also fosters a sense of belonging within the precinct.


Understanding the Demographic Dividend

Central to the success of retailers within these precincts is an understanding of the demographic makeup of residents and visitors. Gino points out the significance of a young demographic with disposable income, coupled with hotel occupants, creating a conducive environment for retail success. 

This demographic resilience, immune from the fluctuations of traditional office-based economies, makes developments like West Side Place and Queen’s Wharf, Brisbane a steady source of revenue for retailers.


Creating an Integrated Experience

The integration of retail spaces with residential, leisure, and entertainment amenities enriches the shopping experience for customers. Gino underscores the continuous turnover facilitated by the diverse offerings, ensuring that retail tenants can capitalise on spending at all times of the day and night. 

From morning coffee runs to late-night shopping sprees, these developments transform into 24-hour hubs of activity, fostering a dynamic retail environment that caters to the diverse needs of the community.


Empowering Retailers Through Support

“Retailers within these precincts receive comprehensive support from leasing management teams, fostering a collaborative environment where success is mutual,” Gino explains. 

“We take a hands-on approach, where the same individual oversees the entire leasing process from negotiation to post-opening assistance,” he continues. 

This personalised support not only builds strong relationships but also instils confidence in retailers, laying the foundation for long-term success and growth within the precinct.


Designing for Success

The design and layout of retail spaces also plays a pivotal role in shaping the shopping environment, influencing customer flow and experience. 

Gino elaborates on the importance of visibility and flow, highlighting the internal resources available to assist retailers in optimising their space. 

“From architectural consultations to interior design support, these developments ensure that retail concepts are not just profitable but also conducive to a vibrant and attractive shopping experience that keeps customers coming back for more,” he says.


Celebrating Success Stories

Numerous success stories within these precincts highlight the transformative impact of developments like West Side Place on businesses and communities alike. 

“I have had at least three or four retailers open their first retail location with us and have since gone on to expand across multiple locations,” Gino says. 

“A few months ago, I had a retailer sell his business after building it up over a number of years and go into early retirement.”

These success stories underscore the potential for retailers to flourish within these dynamic environments, where innovation meets opportunity and success knows no bounds.

In essence, projects like West Side Place and Queen’s Wharf Brisbane represent more than just architectural marvels; they embody a new way of living, where convenience, community, and connectivity converge to create a modern urban utopia. As the retail landscape continues to evolve, these precincts stand as shining examples of the transformative power of urban development, where the needs and desires of residents are not just met but exceeded, one vibrant storefront at a time.