Realising the Hidden Potential of Local Community Neighbourhood Centres

May 30, 2024

Realising the Hidden Potential of Local Community Neighbourhood Centres

The key to refreshing neighbourhood shopping centre experiences lies in recognising and harnessing their potential. By creatively transforming often-overlooked spaces, we can maximise their value and appeal.

Our latest insight dives into how embracing creativity, digital engagement, and community-focused initiatives can revitalise your centre's potential. 

Since 1965, the local neighbourhood shopping centre has been the unsung heroes of our communities, providing easy access to life's essentials. These neighbourhood hubs have stood by us through good times and bad, proving their worth during the pandemic. While some of these older centre shave managed to maintain their charm, many have untapped potential waiting to be discovered. With the right management and a dose of practical creativity, these centres can be transformed into vibrant spaces that engage, inspire, and connect people, contributing to long-term and short-term income for owners butalso strengthens relationships with the community, whilst keeping retailers happy.

Pictured above: AI generated image of the potential for a blank wall within a neighbourhood shopping centre.

Responding to change

As times change, so should these centres. Unfortunately, some are still stuck in the past, with uninspiring restrooms, beige walls, dark carparks and dead zones. Over the years, some have too many signs accumulated, resulting in a cluttered, uninviting, and messy appearance. Staying relevant is possible; it just takes planning, clever thinking, and an understanding of what the local market desires. Owners and managers should think ahead to stay on top, ensuring their centres don't go stale. By considering both the future of the space and what people need to feel comfortable, centres can secure their relationship with the local community. Realistically it’s about taking small, achievable steps within budget to leverage the centre's foot traffic and vehicle traffic outside the centre.

Pictured above: AI generated image visualising the realised potential for an in-centre escalator.

People are increasingly seeking out a "third place" in retail environments – a space that provides a sense of belonging and community.Community shopping centres should be filling this need by offering interesting, comfortable and experiential concepts that resonate. This approach involves outlining a series of solutions to enhance the experience, stimulate engagement, and ultimately assist with increasing traffic, dwell time, retailer profitability, and relationships. There is opportunity for centres to even connect shoppers with nature by incorporating design elements that convey purity and serenity. Creating a comfortable atmosphere will have a positive impact, encouraging customers to stay longer and return more often.

Pictured above: AI generated image of the opportunity to introduce digital activations within a neighbourhood centre.

Creativity in all spaces

How many times have you visited your local centre only to be greeted with blank walls and spaces? Transforming these spaces is not a hard task but requires creative thought and vision. Implementing strategic graphics, whether permanent or semi-permanent, can go beyond mere direction, creating an atmosphere that inspires and delights. Dynamic displays and merchandising can transform vacant spaces into a captivating gallery of experiences.

Pictured above: AI generated image of how a “third space” could be created in a neighbourhood shopping centre by introducing a public library.
Pictured above: AI generated image of how a space can be transformed through the introduction of indoor greenery and murals.

Every shopping centre has a unique story to tell, the challenge is to tell it the best way you can within the budget. Whether you're looking to revitalise an existing space or develop a brand-new centre. At D+M  we take the time to help unlock the untapped potential that lies within, crafting an engaging narrative despite the age and circumstances of the centre. Our years of expertise allows us the ability to harness the potential, ultimately greeting customers with unexpected touches of creativity, such as thought-provoking restroom messaging that sparks conversations and memorable 3D wall activations, that keep shoppers interested and returning.

Pictured above: AI generated image of custom mirrors in a neighbourhood shopping centre bathroom.

Accessible digital engagement

The way we consume information has changed dramatically and thistrend will continue. By bridging the gap between online and offline experiences and incorporating interactive screens if appropriate will not only provide information but will also invite locals to participate in your centre's story.This approach can integrate social media, user-generated content, and marketing activations that may be going on at the time to create a seamless experiencethat extends beyond the physical space. Areas may also be designated to encourage visitors to take and share photos, such as a vibrant and immersive projections, creating a perfect backdrop for families and individuals to capture memorable moments within an instagramable space and drive social media buzz.

Pictured above: AI generated image of children admiring an immersive digital wall within a shopping centre.

In a world where online shopping is becoming increasingly prevalent, local community shopping centres can reinvent themselves as more than just places to shop. By continuously recognising this potential as an owner or manager is key in ensuring your centre is at its best. The potential lies in the transformation of often-overlooked spaces. Turn a blank wall into a canvas for an art installation, transform a forgotten corner into a cozyreading nook, and convert a dull parking lot into a vibrant community mural. By reinventing these opportunity spaces, you maximise your centre's potential, create unexpected delights, draw in new audiences, and solidify your position as a community hub.

Pictured above: AI generated images of the different ways a shopping centre mall can be activated.  

At D+M, we're passionate about helping shopping centre owners and developers unlock the untapped potential of these spaces. With our strategic approach, practical creativity, and deep understanding of the property marketing landscape, we can transform your centre into a vibrant destination that engages, inspires, and connects your community like never before.