Starwood Retail Partners Announces New Portfolio-Wide "Art of Living Locally" Cultural and Education Initiative

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Multi-day series of events and activities focused on well-being and culture to continue with October events at Great Northern Mall in Ohio and The Mall at Wellington Green in Florida

The programs emphasize Starwood Retail's centers as gathering places where guests, community members and shoppers can celebrate and enjoy programs of wellbeing, arts and culture.

CHICAGO (October 3, 2016) - In an innovative program that illustrates its philosophy of turning great shopping centers into great public spaces, Starwood Retail Partners will continue a national "Art of Living Locally" initiative with multi-day events at its Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted, Ohio, beginning tomorrow and The Mall at Wellington Green in Wellington, Fla., later in October.

The programs emphasize Starwood Retail's centers as gathering places where guests, community members and shoppers can celebrate and enjoy programs of wellbeing, arts and culture, and create exhibits and stage events with center partners including local health and cultural organizations. The initiative will expand to each of the firm's 30 malls and lifestyle centers in 16 states across the U.S. over the next year, says Chelsie Petereit, vice president of marketing.

"At Starwood Retail, we believe malls are really a center of commerce and of community," says Petereit. "Rather than continue the old notion of a 'fortress mall,' we are rethinking the mall concept and evolving it from the singular notion of shopping to a place of experiences where visitors and guests can spend time, enjoy friends and participate in new community-based activities."

To produce the multi-day events, Starwood Retail is partnering with metropolitan New York City-based retail strategy firm and frequent collaborator The Riley Group Inc. (TRG) and Dallas-based Team Better Block, a community engagement and planning firm focusing on transforming public and private places.

"We no longer refer to 'shoppers' at retail centers - they're guests who come for dining, entertainment, even learning. The Art of Living Locally will allow each of Starwood's projects to celebrate the best of the arts, fitness and food to be found in their local markets," says Carl Riley, Experience Design Strategist of TRG and the lead strategy architect of the Art of Living Locally initiative. "Just as no two markets are alike, each of these programs will be unique to each center."

Team Better Block's process of engaging a wider slice of the community than traditional methods to change public policies have resulted in Better Block working with cities from Australia to Iran. Recent partners include the Knight Foundation, the National Association of Realtors and People for Bikes.

"The goal of Team Better Block is to create an alternative to the traditional urban planning process. Retail centers are where a community meets and enjoys life," says Andrew Howard, Principal of Dallas-based Team Better Block. "As a company, Starwood Retail Partners is committed to recreating its projects and re-engaging with their markets. It's a perfect marriage."

Activities will center around health, fitness and culture, but will vary with each center. The first event, a Community Walk & Talk, was held at The Mall at Wellington Green on August 10, to solicit community suggestions on how the center can encourage a happier, healthier lifestyle.

From Tuesday, October 4 through Saturday, October 8, Great Northern Mall will host activities including a farmer's market, seminars on building a Main Street, green bike lane and furniture, to live performances, cooking demonstration and a fitness event. For a full list of events, visit here.

The Mall at Wellington Green will celebrate the "Art of Living Locally" on Wednesday, October 19 through Friday, October 21. More than 25 free events will include painting demonstrations from the Wellington Art Society, healthy food tasting, high-intensity interval training classes, a Latin Dance class and ukulele lessons. For a full list of events visit here.

"Though Starwood Retail is national in scope, each of our projects serves its own community," Petereit observes. "The 'Art of Living Locally' will bring together our centers, local partners and our visitors to deepen a sense of connectivity."


Team Better Block originated in 2010 as an alternative to the traditional urban planning process. TBB utilizes experimental architecture, tactical urbanism and rapid prototyping to implement change at the neighborhood level.

Starwood Retail Partners is not your father's - or grandfather's - landlord. We're acquiring, redevelopment, managing, leasing and operating the next generation of shopping centers for a new generation of shoppers: active, exciting community cores for an increasingly interconnected consumer.

Owned by Starwood Capital Group, we have grown our portfolio to 30 centers in 16 states across the United States since our founding in 2012, working with top-tier investment firms to help finance our properties, and employing the talents and skills of the most creative professionals in the business to maximize their value. We build solid relationships and partner with our retailers, and invest in innovative technologies that help our properties become more productive, our stores more exciting and our shoppers more engaged.

We understand that ultimately, as an owner, as an employer and as a citizen of our communities, it's not about property, it's about people.

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Debra Hazel
Debra Hazel Communications
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