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Design Considerations :
Retail Buildings


By: Enrique Villanueva

In a market full of competitive retail businesses, it is important to realize that starting out with a few key design considerations can help bolster your chances for success. Here we will discuss a few of these considerations when planning your retail building.

Location, location, location!!! This mantra is increasingly true, especially in today’s market. When considering a location, it is imperative to study the needs of an area. Will your new building be easily accessible from the main thoroughfare or side street? People are busy and can be impatient. If a destination is difficult to get to, they may opt to go elsewhere. Noting the existing roadways and traffic flows can help determine if this will be a suitable location to consider.

How much competition from other existing retailers is already present? Maybe the area is alive with businesses and you would like to get into that market. Consider the possibility that it may already be too saturated. There are many areas where so many retailers exist, that the traffic alone will turn off patrons. Careful study of patronage to the existing retailers could help determine if locating a new retail building would be worthwhile. Take note of what kinds of business you foresee to be housed in the new retail building and the demand for those retailers.


Providing the proper size building that can be sustained within the serviced area is important to its success.  Having an idea as what type of tenants your building will house will help facilitate a better designed building. The tenant types will directly impact the amount of land that will be needed to service your new retail building comfortably. The amount of parking will be impacted by those tenant types.


For example, a restaurant space will require more parking space than that required by an office space. The building shape and usability for future tenants is extremely important. No owner wants to have a building that sits unleased because the tenant spaces available are too small, too large or oddly shaped to accommodate future tenant use. This type of information can help to inform the building size, parking site requirements and help to deliver a better performing building.


The visible presence of a building is an important element that can attract future tenants. Retailers in your building want to be seen. Whether you use stone, metal, paint or any other of the various building materials available, retailer visibility will be key to your future tenants. Designing a façade to show case the retailer presence could be a key selling point. It would be beneficial to have a unique feature, that in some way advertises the retailers effectively. This could be accomplished with unique building elements or a sign tower with visually pleasing design features. Remember you are advertising to potential tenants as much as the retailers are advertising to future patrons.

Location, Location, Location!!

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