Creative leasing to achieve leisure Place Purpose

At P-THREE our aim is to help create places with purpose which enhance the lives of the people interacting with them.

One of the major challenges the market faces in the leisure sector is how we really create a “Place Purpose”. We often fall into the trap of needing to lease space to an occupier because it is vacant in the immediate term rather than taking the time to consider, challenge, reflect and think about why a leisure use should be added to a development. P-THREE seeks to ask questions around what benefit is there to the community around the space, what is the legacy of the space / letting and ultimately what the property will be famous for.

This process raises many challenges; of course, income needs to be secured and spaces filled, but in a world where the consumer demands ever more from everything they do, we need to work so much harder to differentiate, be creative and deliver new ideas.

Place Purpose is a wide subject which can include many elements of leisure, culture, architecture and dining to name a few and we in the leisure sector need to think harder and more creatively to deliver a Place Purpose. Some may ask why we need Place Purpose; the answer is simple. Without Place Purpose the consumer is now so well educated and experienced that they simply will not return in the long term. Just letting space to a bowl, golf, gym etc is simply not enough. We need to create places which consumers passionately want to visit and singular experiences are not enough in the long term to compete for the consumers most valuable asset; their time.

If we are to be truly innovative in our industry to deliver leisure Place Purpose we need to work much harder on how we construct transactions; this is no mean feat and ultimately will be a herculean task in the established real estate world. However, things are changing. This month I spent time with five of the largest retail and leisure landlords in the United States, all of which are already looking at the potential, or have already implemented innovative leasing and operating structures to deliver genuinely differentiated and innovative leisure offers. Just look at TripleFive with their American Dream mall on the outskirts of New York. Here in New York they have become an operator & licensee of IP leisure brands; operating the Nickelodeon Amusement Park, The Angry Birds Mini Golf, Dreamworks Water Park and being a partner in the Big Snow America, and the Mirror Maze. They are going the extra mile to be creative and deliver their Place Purpose; “an inclusive, diverse community welcoming guests from around the block and around the world, an international hub with a global hug with entertainment experiences beyond compare”. Through their creative leasing they deliver their aims.

In the UK the mentality is still about ‘letting space’ rather than thinking creatively about leasing and financing structures to deliver the very best outcome. Of course it is easier in new build schemes but the same principle applies when adding leisure to existing schemes.

In other locations we have seen roller coasters, theme parks, foodhalls and all sorts of other leisure added to schemes on creative structures, but it still doesn’t go far enough. The sector needs to be more creative to fund and operate these concept to help develop the leisure Place Purpose for their individual assets. Our belief is that if you really want to differentiate and enhance people’s lives through real estate, you need to deliver the very best for the local community and catchment – whatever that it. If the very best is to be delivered we all need to think how we move away from the traditional ways of leasing and financing these capital intensive uses. Only time will tell if this is something the UK landlords, investors and developers will be willing and able to adapt to.