Three Main Types of Retail Construction

Three Main Types of Retail Construction


Malls are usually highly regulated with standardized requirements from the corporate ownership of the mall.  Most work has to be performed after hours.  There are always access issues that plague malls.  These could be multiple levels, paid parking, limited parking, location inside the mall, etc.  When going through the corporate approval process, there are numerous layers of approval, submissions, and final reviews that could and will affect the mall.  Most malls consist of metal stud framing, which is more expensive than wood framing.  Malls have a central heating and cooling system that most stores do not have control, or additional costs to have improved heating or cooling. Typically malls have used anchor stores to ensure high levels of traffic to the malls, this however has shifted overtime to having many smaller stores. 

Some of the local malls are Lynnhaven Mall, managed by Brookfield properties, MacArthur Center, managed by JLL, and Norfolk Premium Outlets, managed by Simon.

Shopping Centers

Shopping Centers are great to work with as they typically have lower regulations from the shopping center management.  This means more freedom, and oftentimes less paperwork for all parties.  The construction work can be performed during normal business hours.  There is typically a mix of metal or wood framing, but it changes from one center to another.  Most shopping centers have consistent space sizes that rarely change unless a larger tenant comes into the center.  This often results in lower construction costs for tenants.  With the individual spaces, the HVAC system is directly controlled by the space.  They are also responsible for the maintenance of that system should something happen.  There are numerous shopping center Leasing and Management companies that are great to work with.  A few of them are S.L. Nusbaum, Harvey Lindsay, Colliers International, Thalhimer, and Divaris.

Free-Standing Buildings

The third type of retail construction are Free-standing buildings.  These are often associated with Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, which are large box stores that have large footprints.  All work must be performed after hours.  All of the bigger stores have standard regulations that allow consistency from Virginia to California.  Think of McDonald’s golden arches.  Large stores require large HVAC systems to heat and cool the building.  These stores have numerous amounts of electrical requirements depending on the use of the building.  Most of these stores are concrete, block, and metal stud framing.  All of the large stores have a warehouse open concept, which keeps cost substantially low.  Where a restaurant design is for intimate settings, closed in for the ambiance. 

In closing there is no right or wrong setup for retail, it is most about what works best for the business at hand.  And being flexible to work in the numerous requirements from the various types of retail. 

JP Carlton

J.P. Carlton

J.P. Carlton is the founder of Carlton Building Services, a Hampton Roads-based construction company.