Lighting Up Experiential Retail at The Field at Commonwealth
On a vacant site in Chantilly, VA surrounded by affluent residential neighborhoods and Class A office space, Regency Centers set out to create an engaging retail experience that would draw the community in. Through market research, they identified the need for a grocery-anchored center and quickly connected with Wegmans, an expanding East Coast grocer. With the grocery chain locked in, plans to develop The Field at Commonwealth – a dynamic retail destination – were put in motion.
Regency’s vision for The Field at Commonwealth was to create a high-end center with unique amenity spaces beyond shopping that would draw people to the center and encourage shoppers to linger longer. While the team brainstormed innovative ways to achieve this vision, they worked to meet Wegmans’ lease date, ensuring the grocer could open in time for the start of its lease.
Speed-To-Market for the Grocery Anchor
To prevent a loss of tenant income, Bohler worked with the project team to move the project forward on an accelerated timeline. Bohler identified ways to shorten the schedule and meet the lease deadline by:
- Designing a generic site plan. The team recognized that waiting until specific pad sites and tenants were determined to obtain site plan approval would take way too long. In developing and executing a creative permitting strategy, the team obtained approval for a generic plan that allowed Wegmans’ construction to begin, while minor revisions to specific pad sites were made as needed.
- Coordination with the jurisdiction. Through Bohler’s relationships with local agency personnel and knowledge of the Fairfax County permitting process, the team pushed approvals forward quickly. By coordinating early on with the Board of Supervisors and the general contractor throughout construction, Bohler minimized delays to meet the lease deadline.
- Earthwork. Big-picture planning for earthwork reduced hard costs and kept the project moving forward for Regency. Even though pad sites weren’t finalized, Bohler planned ahead, raising the road approximately 10 feet to minimize the amount of dirt being hauled off-site. In conjunction with a master grading plan for future sections of the Commonwealth center, this approach saved Regency hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Creating a Unique Experience
With Wegmans approvals in place, the focus shifted to designing the unique, experiential space Regency envisioned. During planning phases, Regency challenged the design team to brainstorm innovative placemaking features. To create an exceptional gathering space for the community, the team identified multiple plaza areas throughout the site and incorporated an interactive light floor capable of withstanding the elements to attract crowds year-round. Developed in collaboration with a lighting consultant, the unique feature can be used to play games, dance, and interact with music.
To further enhance the experience at The Field at Commonwealth, Bohler considered ways to enhance walkability and connectivity. The team also incorporated Theremin Bollards, a rare kinetic sound sculpture, and manholes engraved with the initials of the center.
Bringing People Together
In thinking outside the box to meet ambitious lease deadlines and pushing the limits on the possibilities of experiential retail, Bohler helped Regency achieve its development goals and create an engaging community destination – a place where shoppers come to stay and play.
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