Whole Foods Market in Winter Park, FL with Kim Day McCann
Guest: Kim Day McCann
Topics: Whole Foods Market, architecture
Chris Ressa 0:02
This is retail retold the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris Ressa. And I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC management. I’d like to thank one of our sponsors, retail openings and closings.com. In today’s dynamic retail landscape, tracking openings and closings before they take place has never been more important. Having this intelligence is an undeniable competitive advantage, retail openings and closings.com also known as Rock Tracks, future openings and future closings, comprehensive, accurate and reliable the rock is your crystal ball and the key to making well informed decisions with confidence in today’s evolving retail climate.
Welcome to retail retold.
Today we have Kim McCann of 1118 architecture. Welcome to the show, Kim. Kim morning. Ken, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and what your company does.
Kim McCann 1:19
Certainly, I am Kate McCann, I am a partner with 1118 architecture. We started 1118 in 2009, which sounds absolutely crazy. But as it turns out to be one of the best timed company starts. I think I could have imagined our business was founded primarily around the design of retail, I’d worked in the retail industry for about 10 years prior to that with national retailers directly as well as developers currently eliminate teen is 25. A staff of 25, we’re licensed in 26 states, we’ve kind of picked our state’s by anywhere that I could fly up for public hearings and entitlement hearings. And so get back in a reasonable amount of time.
2025 staff how many are architects,
three licensed architects, but I do only hire degreed professionals. So everyone has got a degree in either architecture or interior design that work on my staff.
Got it. Okay. And where are you guys based? We’re based out of Orlando, Florida. And we’ve used you before you guys are great. And we’ve used you in outside of the state of Florida. So you guys do a great job. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what the state of retail architecture is, I think that’s an interesting place to begin what’s going on in retail architecture and retail design. What’s on trend what’s happening?
Certainly, um, you know, retail has definitely evolved over the 20 years since I started working, you know, in this in this industry, and we used to do a lot of national retailer direct stores from, you know, a rollout to redesigning prototypes and pushing out into new markets. We’ve found lately that a lot of the national retailers are turning it over to more the landlord to the developer to do build outs for them rather than coming in with two separate architect, you know, like we were the retail architect to the developer architect, they’re kind of meshing that together more. So we’re doing a little bit more of the complete project than what we’ve done in the past. And I mean, that’s a very positive trend in my mind, because it allows that gray area between what the developer is doing and what the tenant is doing to kind of mesh together so you don’t have that weird line of who’s taking what piece of that building.
And so it used to be where there’d be but doesn’t don’t both parties in that scenario still needed. A separate architect or no, there’s one architect the landlords and tenants architect is the same.
Yeah, it’s turning a little bit more into so for instance, a TJ Maxx companies, they used it, we used to do a lot more work as the tenant architect, or the landlord architect. Now they’re turning more into like I’m built to suit almost a complete package. So the developer is turnkey in that project, that you don’t have to have the two different architects two different design packages, trying to get those two things to line up. Well which keeps that coordination effort a lot more clean?
Sure, we’ve done a lot of those TJ X deals in all concepts, concepts home good care, Home Sense, so familiar that that they’ve moved to that. What are you seeing from design? What’s happening in the design world?
From? Well, I mean, primarily, a lot of the stores are getting smaller, which you know, is just a reaction to what’s happening in retail overall. But because they’re getting smaller, they’ve got to be laid out in very, very special way. That allows the person to be able to move through the store and see the merchandise in a more complete package, and faster than what we had to do before. I think over the last 20 years, this has become more and more apparent. So the store planning side of each of those brands is becoming much more instrumental than they ever had in the past.
And so what are the what are some of the things they’re doing to make the customer experience better? From a store planning perspective? You mentioned visibility of merchandise and things? What are some things that a developer or a retailer could do to make that, you know, happen? What are some of those design elements that are actually being employed in the store?
Sure, I mean, lighting is a big deal. Lighting has always been, you know, a primary drive design driver in these and the the stores with the with the bust, focus will bring the shopper from place to place. And that can be done one through fixtures and layout of that pathways, a nice circulation where you actually feel like you need to move around the entire store, and not just hit the end caps that are that are just positioned at the ends near the cue lines. And so it’s that choreograph movement from the beginning to walk into the exit, that you try to get that person to move from, right all the way around, circling around the store to the left side where they can cue back out.
Or trying to take that short circuit out. Understood that’s, that’s really interesting. And what are developers doing and landlords doing from a shopping center design, whether that’s a new build shopping center, or an existing shopping center? What are they doing from design elements and, and from an architecture perspective, we found a
lot more than design, from the shopping centers team point to be a more of a tactile, like a texture experience than the traditional tilt wall flat, no, you know that that get in the store, move around and move back out. And so what they’re trying to do and what we’re seeing a lot of what we’re designing is that how to get people pulled into the center and to stay. So it’s linear, we’re using linear parks or pocket parks, we’re using a lot of tactile design from the bench design, integrating a smooth texture and reclaimed wood or something with a little bit more of a of a texture and we’re finding that it’s spending a little bit more money on those finishes that will get people to see your center before they see the you know, the the center down the street.
Got it what’s what’s going on in the color world these days. So there’s a couple of different
schools of thought it’s interesting. And we have some clients that that are very into the monochromatic color palettes, that you’re seeing a lot of that kind of the grays and the blue color palettes. And then you have the other school of thought where it’s like let’s see how bright we can get to attract that attention. We’re we’re finding is the the more light like monochromatic to neutral color palettes are becoming much more timeless, where the trendy or colors are the ones that were coming in and doing like facade remodels on pretty quickly there, those color palettes are lasting about three years or so before they become you can say that center was built in 2017 That was the color of that year. And so you know the trend of course, from the maintenance standpoint was to try to move into a little bit more
color palette. I’m sorry, I missed that what type of color palette timeless, timeless got it valid?
What so the buildings you’ve seen them and you can say oh that’s a you know that’s a 2008 design you know they use the rust color.
Sure What’s Give me what are the I guess the timeless are the neutral colors timeless Is that what’s timeless
that that’s what we’re saying that you know they hold you couldn’t guess where they’re you know what year they were built in?
The only challenge with some of those timeless and they tend to be I would find lighter colors. Is that fair? Um,
they are a little bit lighter colors. Yeah.
So lighter colors are harder to keep clean. But I agree. I personally I like the neutral. My house is grays and grazes and beiges. So, definitely, it feels timeless to me. So very cool. Anything else going on in the, in the retail architecture, whether that’s from the real estate shopping center, or the retail design perspective, that’s interesting today. Any anything that’s going on from a tech perspective, right, that that affects your world?
Well, I mean, two different things. I mean, one, almost every community is, is developing their own overlay districts and design standards. We didn’t have that so globally before. And so now, you know, it’s that constant response back to each community and what their design standards are. That that is this next layer that’s coming into it. A lot of the times it’s a battle between the community cost and what the retailer will accept. And to get those three things to line up is, is it’s a big job sometimes.
Totally. That’s a great point, right? When you mentioned the three things, the cost of the project, the community in the retail, from a retail perspective, you have a brand that you’re trying to treat brand standards, and now this town wants you to change that to meet their design overlay. A lot of times the design, you know that the community wants is a cost that wasn’t foreseen. And it’s a it’s a big challenge.
Oh, definitely. I mean, that’s, that’s the biggest thing. The signs are all the sign requirements are getting more strict to get, you know, monument sign and monument sign space to building sign spacing, and overall in the center to try to make all those pieces work with the overlay of what what that community is making you respond to, is quite a puzzle.
Are are the communities and the and the Architectural Review Boards and all these groups? Do they understand that? You know, these retailers need that brand presence? And they need to have their prototypical stuff?
Well, they may understand it, but they don’t want it in their backyard.
Wow. Yeah. Wow. Well, I hope you’re, you’re getting all three sides to figure out how to coexist, not an easy task. That’s an interesting trend. We’ve, I’ve seen it and I hadn’t thought about it until you highlighted it. Are you seeing anything from either the property or the inside of a store, because of tech there, that’s being installed, that you need to change design?
You know, it’s interest. That’s an interesting case, that probably was true, more so in the past that now you know, now everything has become so much smaller. So the big, you know, pos stations and server clauses that we needed and integrated sound and all of that’s all of those components used to take up a lot of space that we would have to hide somehow in disguise, we know where they would be accessible but not noticeable to, to the shopper, where now all of those things are so tiny that those claws those big rooms and closets that we used to screen with all these different design elements aren’t necessary anymore.
Interesting. All right. Last question on design. We’re gonna go to one that’s near and dear to a lot of listeners hearts, I’m sure. The bathrooms in stores? What, what what’s going on these days to do retailers want them in the front of stores? Are they in the back? You know, some there’s some stores where you got to go through like this, these great double doors and it’s like hidden in certain place. What’s going on with the bathrooms?
That is a great question. Yeah, you know, well, there’s a couple of things that are factors to that one, almost every shopping center that’s built the utilities are stuffed into the back. So the cost of bringing everything to the front you know, there’s a factor to that. So traditionally, the bathrooms are located in the back one you don’t really want customers in your bathroom,
but but don’t a lot but don’t most stores have to have a public bathroom except for outside of an enclosed mall but most open air retail centers they have to have a bathroom in the store, right?
Absolutely. Yeah. And they’ve got to be accessible to the customer now. You know, defining accessible, they can’t go through another space to get to the space but they he certainly could be in the back of the house area behind the big grades, double doors, you know. And, uh, you know, there’s there’s a sad trend that has happened and probably in the last 10 years, I’ve never seen it so much that, you know, plaintiff customers are coming in to find those bathrooms and then ensuring that every component within those bathrooms were constructed per the drawings and are ADA accessible. Yeah, that’s, you know, it’s a it’s a very sad trend that’s happening and another layer to what retailers just do not need it in our in our ever changing industry.
Totally, so there’s still more prevalent in the back of the store. That’s where you think because of costs, we can probably expect to find the bathroom in a store over the next few years. Definitely. Alright. So moving on, you have an interesting story. You worked on the whole foods in Winter Park, Florida. What Why don’t you tell us about that story and how that became from your perspective?
Well, the site was a existing junkyard for automobiles. So anytime you see all those automobiles that are all squashed up, and, and I don’t I’m not sure what happens to them from there, but they’re just there.
Yeah, my when I was growing up, I went to a lot of those. My dad was a mechanic, so we would go to junkyards find some parts, maybe resell the parts or use those parts so been to a lot of junkyards. Yeah. So this
would have been the perfect site for you. You would know it just just the way it is. This I did have an old barn that was probably constructed, you know, in, in the 40s. That barn was probably originally used when it was farmland, and then it transitioned a couple times, and then turned into this automobile junkyard, it was on a road that has got exceptional traffic. And then on top of that it’s in it’s located in Winter Park, Florida. So if you’re familiar with the outskirts of Orlando, Winter Park is one of those communities that that you want to be in, you know, it’s got great residents great shopping about every restaurant that you could imagine most of them are located in Winter Park. So this site was kind of right on the intersection of two heavily traveled roads. The developer we were working with purchased the site and we started going through the overlay district and design criteria for Winter Park and developed what we thought was a unique design approach something that was different, something that would stand out Winter Park likes a lot of design diversity, you know, more so than say, a Naples, Florida where everything tends to look the same. They are they are a little bit more into that design diversity. So we went in and started the process. Really interesting story of how that community, the design and the retailer all flashed after our first Planning and Zoning meeting, presenting the design, we learned and this is one of those things that you always want to kind of go around and talk to the neighbors and though the neighbors of this site. There weren’t any it was all commercial areas. But everyone in Winter Park showed up hundreds of people including the news media, and were extremely offended that we were going to build what they call the 1970s shopping center, because the there was parking in front of the building. And it would destroy the fabric of Winter Park because we were going with a very modern design. They wanted something the residents wanted something more like Florida Mediterranean. So as we went through the public hearing process, it got so heated that the police actually had to stand in the in the room while we were presenting to keep people from essentially coming like getting in our faces telling us how terrible we were.
Oh my god over a grocery store. Food
that was taking a place of an auto salvage yard. Easy. It was crazy. It got so bad that by the last commission meeting the police actually walked our design team out of the building and to our cars so we can get to mark our safe life. Absolutely the craziest process I’ve ever been in and you know when you were 200 people and they light the brooms on fire and they’re all standing there with pitchforks chanting at you because you went to put a fantastic grocery in their neighborhood. It’s just absolutely mind boggling,
would it? Would they have rather it stayed at junkyard?
Well, that was the big question we kept asking. And the answer is no, you know, and of course everyone is proclaiming that they will never shop at Whole Foods, they’ll never never never go there. We actually had a Nordstrom Rack that we were designing on that site, as well as you know, a habit in a Cafe Rio and, and it’s a great site. And you know, we fronted the bill that we fronted the route, main road with buildings and parked in the middle. And so it really was a good, a good site plan, but they just did not want it. But the most interesting thing about it on opening day, all of these people showed up to shop, you know, and you’re just like, Ah, why did we have such a hard time with those.
So when this is fascinating, so you go for approval, and unbeknownst to you, hundreds of residents show up for this place, that’s already a commercial area. And they oppose it, because you’re going to destroy the fabric of the community. So they think, and we’re you. And so what happened after that? Did that meeting, obviously, did you guys table it? Did you move forward in that meeting? What did you do at that point?
Well, we tried to move forward for about two hours, and then realize we abandon it and decided that it just needed to be tabled for now. You know, and then we did back up, and we did our, you know, community outreach meetings and went around to different residents and tried to get their ideas of what they would want. But the difference of this is no the same thing, the pull of what Whole Foods needs, which is a field of parking, where people can park and go into the into the grocery store. And what what people thought they wanted, you know, which is this very ultra urban site, extremely dense. No, and you just can’t, that just doesn’t work in reality, you know, you’ve got to be able to, it doesn’t work in Winter Park, Florida, because you can’t afford to put in parking structures and make that density.
So what did they what did they were they actually trying to go for?
They were wanting one the building to not be modern, you know, they wanted the building to be like already in premium. Yeah. And then they wanted the buildings to be pushed all the way up to the road and no parking fields. They said that everyone did that in the 70s. And that that is should not be allowable anymore.
So it looks like a mini city. Is that what they were going for? City? Yeah, yeah. in Winter Park, Florida. Wow. Okay. And so that’s what they wanted. And so after, after this crazy meeting, or hundreds of people showed up, you then table it, you go back and you start a community outreach? Why don’t you explain everyone what community outreach is because I don’t know that all the listeners know, because that’s interesting.
Sure. So what we try to do is we try to group when we set these meetings up, and we know that it’s going to be a highly political project is you set up these small groups, and you try to separate out the groups with different interests, because what you don’t want is the gang effect, which is what happened to us in that first meeting. And so you try to quarantine these different groups with these different interests. And you allow them to tell you what their perfect scenario of the project would be. And you see if there’s anything from those meetings that you could actually integrate into the plan that would work for the developer would work for the retailer. So you go through the series of meetings, and at the end, you have altered either the design or the site plan, or maybe not much of anything, maybe you’ve just increased awareness among these groups. So the idea is the next time you go into the public forum, you can start your presentation by that you met with the different groups. This is how you’re playing change and response to their wants and needs. This is why you couldn’t change the plants in response to their wants and needs. And it kind of starts that presentation off with heading off any of the negative comments on what you why you could do it or why you couldn’t do it. And so it sets the floor a little bit more to the either the planning and zoning commissioners or the city commissioners on why the project is what it is.
And so how many meetings were there after that first, as you call it, pitchfork meeting?
We did for community outreach meetings. And then we went back to planning and zoning and the pitchforks came back out because there wasn’t everything you know, we couldn’t do everything that they wanted. But we did make it through that planning zoning and subsequent made it through the City Commission, even though they just got a little bit more heated and heated. meaning, you know, and I understand what they wanted, but you have to understand that they are the users of this store, and they still need to be able to go from their car with a grocery cart, you know, into a store and back out and be able to leave the site. And so once in a lot of times, people don’t like change, even if it was, you know, an eyesore to the community, they just don’t like change, and you just have to have your change just has to happen.
And so what was, so where were those community outreach meetings done? Were they at town hall? Um,
well, different places. So, you know, traditionally what we tried to do is meet people away from their own places of comfort. So you know, you could meet at, at a library you could meet at a lot of times, they’ve got, you know, a lot of the different restaurants or community rooms or elk lodges, or, you know, VFW you just try to get people out of their comfort zone and out of their setting into somewhere else where you can have a real conversation with them. Got it meetings were actually happening at City Hall.
And how long between the first pitchfork meeting, and then the second meeting where you got approval to go to the City Commission? 60 days, 60 days. And so you go to the second meeting, you get approval, and then the next step is you go to the City Commission.
Yep. And then so you’ve got two readings normally at the City Commission, for a project, you know, like this are a lot of projects as they’re going through the process. Your first reading is, is, you know, normally again, everyone will come out and say the same thing that they said planning zoning, again, a City Commission, if they don’t feel like they have enough resolution to that. And then the second reading is a little bit more calm normally, traditionally, as it has been approved already, in the fourth grade, reading just gives everyone 30 more days or 15 more days, depending on that jurisdiction, to get their thoughts together and make sure that this project should go forward.
Fascinating. And so the when you did this process, you mentioned the community outreach. Were you talking, you know, did you feel like in general, the totality of the town wanted it? And was Whole Foods, even though this group of people were concerned? Was Whole Foods concerned about? Wow, you know, because I remember back in the day, when Walmart was opening all these stores, you know, there was always this tug and pull of people didn’t want them coming in. Because they would hurt small business. But then once they came in, they were going to have to have these people be consumers to be successful. Was Whole Foods concerned that the people wouldn’t shop them? No,
I don’t think so. I mean, this is it’s there was there’s there was currently a Whole Foods in Winter Park, they were actually going to this was a relocation so they already knew that they had a good customer base there. And if you’re for a project if if you are a neighbor that is excited about a project or for a project or neutral of a project, you don’t show up at these meetings. And so if they’re very lopsided and the perception can be when you have 200 people hating the project, you have to remember that there are you know, it’s a town of 60,000 people you know, so it’s a very small percentage, although it feels very huge when you’re standing in that room.
There’s a great story anything else about that story that we should touch on because really interesting of how that whole foods ended up in Winter Park or ya know, and
you know, the most interesting thing about the project was you know, was how it how we actually got to the point where we could start the design process, you know, because all of that process really happens before you put together the construction drawings you know, and things like that, but we actually did take the old barn on the site and repurpose the barn into the building so the site you know, Whole Foods is very, very interested in how they can reuse readapt and be the most energy efficient building you know, around and so we did a lot of really cool fun things for them on this building. That that made it
special. Got it? I haven’t I haven’t been there doesn’t look like a barn today.
No, no, it’s it’s, it’s pretty modern. It’s got a really big curved canopy out front. All of the woods It is used in the canopy. It’s used on little places on the facade, and then it’s used in the interior for the produce, you know how they do the produce bends?
Sure. Very cool. Well, that was a fantastic story. Really appreciate it. One of the more different ones we’ve had on this show. So thank you for sharing. We are now going to move to the last part of our show called retail wisdom. Are you ready, Kim? I’m ready. All right. So it’s three questions. I think, you know, the questions. Question, one, best piece of commercial real estate advice out there for everybody.
Know your surroundings, I guess, as you’re as you’re looking at different sites, you know, basically, based on this story, know who your opposition’s are going to be, have an understanding when you’re setting your performance and your schedule, what hurdles you’re going to come across in getting there, you know, so you don’t have outrageous delays or 3040, you know, days where you’re just sitting there and regrouping or having to, you didn’t account on having special meetings or going through the variance process.
Awesome. Very, very sage advice. All right. Question two, fan favorite. Extinct retailer, you wish would come back from the dead?
Ah, you know, I think this is kind of that nostalgia question. You know,
Unknown Speaker 31:34
I miss I miss
walking up and down the the, the blockbuster movies, it’s not the same whenever you have to scroll through the movies as if you could walk up and down the aisle and pick your movie and be reminded to rewind.
The kind please rewind. Haven’t heard that one in a while.
Kind of a nostalgia. I can’t promise you I would actually go but me and I really missed those days.
That would be a that’s a a phrase I miss for sure. So we have had a few people say Blockbuster and and with and with the whole entertainment realm and TV will make the third question. Something like that. So you talked about scrolling through. And you know, with everything going on in the world today and COVID-19 and a lot of people being home. It’s probably a little bit more TV watching. And I don’t know about you, somehow, in my house. remote controls disappear. They get eaten by couches. They get they are they end up in drawers that no one knows how they got there. And so right now, the third question, I am looking at the Amazon Alexa Voice remote. What is the retail price for those whose couch eats their remote? Need to get a new Amazon Alexa Voice remote? The second generation remote? What is that retail for? Oh my gosh. Um,
I have to say that is definitely not my department and our house. So
I’m $34 not bad close. 2999. But thank you for playing. And this has been an awesome interview. I really, really appreciate the story and the cool insights on the resale architecture trends. Thanks for coming on, Kim.
How can if anybody out there wants to get in touch with you? How can people find you?
Well, you could find me at our website is 11 the word spelled out 18 The numbers architecture.com 1118 architecture.com.
Awesome. Well, Kim, it’s been great. Stay safe, stay healthy.
Keep rockin on.
Thanks so much.
Thank you. Thank you for listening to retail tools. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show. Please reach out to us at retail retold at DLC mgmt.com This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to retail retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode