Why? Why Not?

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Many have a tradition of making (and breaking) resolutions at this time of year. In fact, many have a tradition of making (and breaking) the same resolutions every year. So, why not try a new one this time?

Ruminations suggests that we all resolve to ask two questions, over and over: “Why?” and “Why not?” Let’s stop mindlessly copying and pasting from documents in our files. Let’s start by reading them carefully, something we think most of us haven’t done for a long time, if ever. We’re not just suggesting that the provisions be read as if being proofread. Instead, let’s really read them. Why does this work this way? Why wouldn’t it work another way?

We’re not suggesting that anything be thrown out the window just because it’s been around for a long time – time-tested, so to say. But, the times have changed and what made sense years ago when first written may not be the best approach today or, more importantly, tomorrow.

Come writers and critics

Who prophesize with your pen

And keep your eyes wide

The chance won’t come again

And don’t speak too soon

For the wheel’s still in spin

And there’s no tellin’ who

That it’s namin’.

For the loser now

Will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin’.

A few weeks ago, in a side-bar email exchange, a thought came to us: we need to drop the label, “Shopping Center.” Shopping is “so over.” People don’t go to those centers so much to shop as to be someplace. You can shop over the internet, but you can’t share that human experience with other people. That’s what the new “Center” is about. A three million square foot project just opened in New Jersey, only one-third intended for shopping. The balance is dedicated to, using today’s word: “entertainment.” And, that includes a theme park, ice rink, water park, and an indoor ski center. It also will include over 100 dining spots.

Many, many leases prohibit or limit these uses. Landlords, do your leases allow for amusement activities? Tenants, do you still insist that the properties where you locate be frozen in time? With the exclusive uses seen in many leases, could there even be 15 dining spots? Tenants, do you really know which is better – a large slice of a small pie or a small slice of a larger pie? Customers no longer need to shop at a shopping center. Our industry needs to give them a reason to come. Online shopping offers a plethora of choices. Shouldn’t brick and mortar projects compete with lots of choices?

We are the writers and critics who prophesy with our pens. Are we keeping our eyes wide? The chance won’t come again.

Next year, let’s start asking “Why?” and “Why not?” – especially: “Why not?” Don’t let fear hold us back. We’re not suggesting change for the sake of change, but only that we recognize that the world has changed and will continue to do so. “We’ve always done it this way” only succeeds so far. If “changing” is too radical a step for any reader, then change the word to “adapt.” Instead of saying “We need to change,” say “We need to adapt.” If we don’t, others will.

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Comments

  1. Elliot L. Warm,. General Counsel says:

    This certainly hits home. Over the years the major, anchor-type tenants have prohibited uses that now are not only beneficial but essential to shopping centers. As but one example, I am involved in a situation where various waivers are needed in order to allow for a very desirable fitness tenant within a commercial condominium complex (essentially a traditional shopping center) in the face of use restrictions in the master deed. Yesterday’s “noxious” uses are some of today’s most desirable uses, yet obtaining of waivers is always a difficult chore in view of the formalities involved with the larger companies and the understandable inclination of any waiving party to seek a quid pro quo.

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