Creating community hubs

We know that our consumers and communities are looking for more than just a shopping experience. They are looking for destinations where they can connect with others and fulfil their lifestyle needs.

Through our strategy to create market leading destinations, we strive to ensure that our centres reflect the wants and needs of their local communities and incorporate social integration considerations into the design, construction, leasing and operation of our centres.

Vicinity’s leasing strategy is focused on moving our tenant mix to higher demand categories that reflect changing consumer preferences. As a result, offerings at our centres are enhanced with greater café and dining options, cinemas and entertainment, and indoor and outdoor  events to create a social experience that caters to our local communities. Our diversified tenant mix also supports consumers’ health and wellbeing through the provision of services such as gyms, medical centres, physiotherapists, insurance companies/offices and various community service providers.  

We also focus on offering enjoyable experiences for families to make visiting our centres hassle-free through the inclusion of parents’ rooms, many with baby changing and private feeding facilities, as well as children’s play areas and seasonal programs for school children.

Accessibility and inclusion is a priority across our portfolio, with many of our centres including disabled parking and amenities (such as Changing Places High Care facilities and high tables in food courts for wheelchair access), and wheelchairs for use within the centre.

Case study: Northland’s Sensory Shopping Day

In November and December 2017, Vicinity’s Northland Shopping Centre partnered with AMAZE Victoria (the peak organisation for people with autism) and the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University to create a sensory friendly environment for shoppers with family members with autism.

A number of retailers participated in the sensory shopping days, including Target, Factorie, Degani and Best&Less.  The centre and participating retailers opened an hour early (from 8 am to 9 am) during the selected days, with lights partially dimmed, music 

turned off, and the staff instructed to greet customers non-verbally. Signs were placed at cash registers instructing people to maintain a metre-wide distance to give more space to the customers.

Prior to stores opening on the day, AMAZE conducted environmental audits in selected stores to ensure that the sensory environment was suitable for a person on the spectrum, and giving such people the chance to shop without a sensory overload.

Additionally, there were various Christmas activities on offer for kids to enjoy, including story time with Mrs Claus in Northland’s Quiet Room, free face painting and sensitive Santa Christmas photography.

The importance of these events to the community was evident on the day, with one guest revealing that “this was the first time in three years we could shop as a whole family”.

Vicinity’s Northland Shopping Centre remains committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive place for people with autism. Together with AMAZE, Northland opened Australia’s first ever shopping centre Quiet Room – a sensory soothing space for individuals with autism. Click here to find out more.

Case study: Weekly mall walking

A number of our centres are located in catchments where seniors (aged 60+) make up a significant proportion of the population.

Mall walking for seniors is a popular activity offered at many of our centres, including Mornington Central, Bentons Square, Mildura Central, Mandurah Forum, The Gateway, Grand Plaza and Broadmeadows Central.

Mall walking provides a safe indoor environment for our older community members to get moving, and is often combined with a series of light exercises such as stretches and squats, which help our senior customers stay healthy and active.

 

 

Catching up for coffee afterwards helps them connect with their friends, family and the community – an important contributor to social inclusion and high quality of life.

Some of our centres have long running programs that offer a range of social activities in addition to mall walking. For example, our Broadmeadows Shopping Centre has an Out & About Club, which has been in place for almost 20 years, where seniors and pensioners come together for weekly walking and also enjoy other social activities such as movie screenings, High Tea events, and gift exchanges at Christmas time.

Case study: Colonnades Fresh Food Market - a place to be for families and children

School holidays are busy times for Vicinity’s Colonnades Shopping Centre, when the centre’s Fresh Food Market becomes a buzzing venue for local families with children, and where the centre offers a range of activities that are entertaining and educational.

Summer in the Market (during January and February) and Winter in the Market (during June and July) events are held during the school holidays where the centre hosts a range of family fun days and activities at the Fresh Food Market. These include kids craft sessions and workshops, live music, face painting and kids cooking classes. Some of the educational school holiday activations this year included Safari Zoo Adventure craft workshops, Mad Hatter’s Maze, kids sensory play workshops and cooking classes with Sprout Cooking School.

The centre has partnered with Sprout Cooking School – an organisation that offers cooking and nutrition classes for children –  to host cooking classes at the Fresh Food market throughout the year. Sprout educates kids about the importance of eating well and gives them skills to do so, with the aim of improving health outcomes and creating a positive relationship with food and nutrition. This highly successful initiative has seen over 400 kids participate during the year.

The Fresh Food Market remains an important and welcoming place that never fails to provide an engaging experience for everyone in the local community.

Our broader economic and community impacts

Our portfolio of centres generate a number of direct and indirect economic benefits for our local communities.

  • As a large local employer, both directly and indirectly, our centres are important hubs for driving local economic activity and play an important part in building the prosperity of our communities.
  • Our community investment program, focused on alleviating youth unemployment and disengagement, creates positive employment and economic development outcomes.
  • Procuring services from local and social enterprises and indigenous businesses, and encouraging better labour standards from our suppliers, grows local employment opportunities and helps disadvantaged segments of the community participate in the economy.
  • Small to medium local businesses set up around our centres serving our consumers and expanding the economic activity in the surrounding community.
  • Large development projects span many years creating employment opportunities with contractors during construction and retailers post completion.
  • Our diverse retail offering provides broader societal and lifestyle benefits through access to gyms, cafes and restaurants, cinemas and health and wellbeing services.