Could Oklahoma City support a retail lifestyle center? Price Edwards & Co. thinks so, with caveats.
Jim Parrack, senior vice president and retail specialist, makes a good case for it in the firm's year-end retail market report. He argues that the apparent obstacles could be overcome. It's worthy of a look as a whole.
Parrack: We firmly believe that Oklahoma City could support a more upscale shopping center; we have the incomes equal to or greater than many of our competitive cities, our challenge being that our higher-income households tend to be scattered throughout the city. It will take a developer and retailers who understand that we'll drive further and spend more than their typical formulas suggest.
The definition of “lifestyle center” varies depending on who you are talking with; the International Council of Shopping Centers doesn't even include a definition among its general retail classifications. For our purposes, let's call a lifestyle center a project with higher-end retail, restaurants, and perhaps mixed-use characterized by open-air design, heavily landscaped common areas and pedestrian friendly. None exist in Oklahoma City; both Wichita (Kan.) and Little Rock (Ark.) have such centers, cities generally considered a step below Oklahoma City.
Follow this link to Bradley Fair in north Wichita, www.bradleyfair.com. Look at the pictures, notice the mix of tenants. Now go to www.chenalshopping.com. Red Development completed this project in Little Rock a few years ago.
The populations of the greater metro areas of Oklahoma City, Wichita and Little Rock are 1.3 million, 660,000, and 710,000 respectively. Retailers crave income. Each metro area has a median household income of between $42,000 and $45,000.
What about high incomes that are important to this kind of development? Incomes over $100,000: Oklahoma City, 8.7 percent; Wichita, 8.7 percent; Little Rock, 11.4 percent. Little Rock has a bit of an edge in high incomes, but if you look at the actual numbers, Oklahoma City has twice as many high-wage earners as Wichita and a third more than Little Rock. These numbers clearly suggest that we can support a similar development.