In a time when shoppers are increasingly spending money online instead of at bricks-and-mortar stores, North Hills continues to be a premier shopping destination in the Triangle. A testament to North Hills’ vitality: 99 percent of its retail space is occupied, and five new merchants have opened since the beginning of the year.
The outlook is not this rosy for much of the retail sector. Investment bank Credit Suisse anticipates more than 8,600 stores will close by the end of 2017. With the acceleration of store closings, The Wall Street Journal reports that analysts predict 400 of roughly 1,100 American malls will close in coming years.
So why is retail at North Hills booming when other retail centers are struggling? The key to North Hills’ success and longevity is its mixed-use design, according to its developer John Kane, CEO of Kane Realty.
“The future of retail is not in the mall,” says Kane. “I remind people that we tore down the mall and built something that’s very different. At North Hills, we have people who come here to go to the gym, the movies, concerts, meet for coffee or lunch.”
The mix of offices, apartments, stores, services, and restaurants creates a balanced community in which residents and workers support the restaurants and shops while thousands of other people visit North Hills daily for everything from groceries to haircuts. Effectively, Kane Realty has created a modern Main Street with all the services and amenities workers and shoppers need.
Kane Realty has been intentional about giving people many reasons to visit and shop at North Hills. Midtown Events, a division of Kane Realty, hosts more than 400 special events annually, including free concerts, outdoor fitness classes, a farmers’ market, and children’s events.
Unlike traditional malls, the vision for North Hills has never been to depend primarily on retail tenants. Merchants are only part of the equation for success – along with offices, hotels, and apartments.
While other retail centers are scrambling to fill empty storefronts, North Hills is celebrating grand openings. This year, four new women’s apparel stores, Lilly Pulitzer, Marta’s, Copper Penny, and StyleFinder Boutique, have opened along with Kendra Scott (a jewelry store) and Paintbase (a nail salon).
They will soon be joined by Southern Tide (men and women’s apparel), Kilwins (an old-fashioned confectionary), Aladdin’s Eatery (healthy Lebanese-American cuisine), Cycle Bar (an indoor cycle fitness studio), Midtown Yoga, CO (a Vietnamese restaurant), Happy + Hale (specializing in salads, smoothies, and healthy fare), and Arrow Haircuts.
Plans are also underway to expand North Hills’ Park District on 33 acres along St. Albans Street on the east side. The new phase of development will add residences and offices, as well as parks and public art.
“North Hills is urban planning that’s focused on anticipating instead of reacting. Positioning itself to accommodate the needs of today – and adapt to those of tomorrow,” said Mike Smith, Kane Realty president. “North Hills is a community authentically embraced by its neighbors, residents, workers, and guests as the place to be.”