Long-Time Developer Preps Shopping Centers for Future

Article originally posted on Phoenix Business Journal on July 11, 2019
Michael Pollack, owner of Michael A. Pollack Real Estate Investments, has been in the real estate business for almost half a century.

During that time, he has been involved in more than 11 million square feet of real estate projects worth more than $1 billion. He owns and operates dozens of retail center around the Phoenix area.

I caught up with Pollack at his Mesa offices last month to talk about some changes in the retail real estate world.

The following conversation has been edited for breadth and clarity.

When looking at all your centers together, what is the one thing you are focused on right now?We are repositioning centers into what I would call their final form, in preparation for whatever the market decides it wants to do. We’re preparing for best-case/worst-case scenarios, and we’re investing into the centers heavily at the moment. If the good happens, we’re thrilled, and if something bad were to happen, we’re going to be ready.

How much does that have to do with Amazon and other online retailers?This isn’t all of a sudden we woke up one day and said, “Gee, Amazon’s real and they’re here to stay.” We saw this coming, actually almost 15 years ago. At all our centers, we are gearing to be, what I call, “Amazon resistant.” Obviously health clubs are Amazon resistant. We find a lot of other businesses, churches are Amazon resistant.

With other technology, such as Uber, Lyft and driverless cars, evolving quickly, how should shopping centers react? Are we close to a time with no parking lots? I don’t think we’re ready for that. I think we’re at the point where it’s just becoming popular. I think we’re going to have to accommodate it in the shopping centers, so that we have areas where they can pull easily in and out. None of us, really, in the strip center business have done a lot yet to accommodate what is the present and surely the future.

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Real estate entrepreneur Michael Pollack.