The Past, Present & Future of Retail

Five retail industry icons spoke during an engaging presentation to discuss how retail has evolved in Phoenix from the 1960s through today. Dave Cheatham, President, and Darren Pitts, Executive Vice President of Velocity Retail Group lead the group which spoke to the 100+ attendees.

Panel members were:

  • Jack Rasor, Principal, WDP Partners
  • Howard Grace, President, W.M. Grace Companies
  • Stewart Jean, General Partner, Park West Development
  • Bob Kubicek, Founding Partner, RKAA Architects
  • Scott Rehorn, Managing Partner, RED Development

Collectively, this group was involved in or was privy to the history surrounding retail development throughout Phoenix. Jack Rasor brought a map from the 1960s which laid out Westcor’s original plan for the regional malls throughout the metro area. While a few of the malls have been repurposed (Los Arcos in Scottsdale), the framework of those plans established our current retail landscape.

The crowd was enlightened with discussions about the advent of Power Centers of which Vestar was one of our major developers, changing grocery store sizes, mall and shopping center designs, and re-tenanting strategies. Additionally, the group discussed new trends for retailers involving pick-up, delivery, and internet ordering bolstered by many consumers who want to save time and have more convenience.

Each panel member discussed the evolution of retail design, retailers, restaurants, and the ever-important consumer which drives retail to continuously grow. Stewart Jean made the comment “Retail is like fashion, it is continuously changing,” making note of the ever-changing width of men’s ties. The group agreed that if retailers do not change and adapt, they eventually die.

“We were thrilled to have such an iconic and skilled group participate in this program,” said Pitts, who is also a Board member for NAIOP-AZ. “Getting all of this talent, experience, and history together was a treat for us as well as those attending,” he added.

The group concluded with positive comments about the outlook for the Phoenix market, retail development, and retailer growth.

The Market Leader Series is made possible by NAIOP’s Arizona Chapter in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority and Commercial Executive Magazine.