Before it became what it is today, Victory Park was a 72-acre mixed-use urban development that was seeking to become “the destination” in downtown Dallas. It had plans for 60 storefronts (50 retailers and 10 restaurants), 600+ residences, about 800,000 sq/ft of office space, an urban park and trail system, mass rail transit and the American Airlines Center. All at a time when downtown Dallas was nothing but highrise office buildings. Our job was to create a destination from a vision of what downtown Dallas could become. During construction’s pre-leasing stage, the main challenge we faced was overcoming past false starts of the project with local government, which were heavily, and unfavorably, covered by the local and national trade press. A lack of clear communications had also positioned the project as competitive to downtown renovation efforts and drew fire from several local government officials and retail associations. Heavy competition for this exclusive and affluent audience made it difficult for a 10 percent down payment to hold them to their contracts for the two years of construction. More specifically, the perception of Dallas among emerging brand retailers needed to be changed. Based on the idea that no one will drive past a Gap to get to another Gap, we took a non-traditional, more relationship-based marketing approach.
The aim was to convince these exclusive, emerging, and fickle brands that Victory would be a destination that would capture a new type of retail shopper who actually planned to live and thrive in the growing downtown district. The strategy was to position Victory to these cache retailers as the “Third Coast” – a fashion-forward, affluent place to see and be seen between New York and California. If we could win over these emerging brands, we could effectively co-brand Victory with retailers to designate this new district as the shopping mecca of the Southwest. Our strategic initiative centered on finding the best platform to introduce Victory Park to the most retailers at one time in one place and start a buzz of conversation. The ICSC Tradeshow in Las Vegas was our stage to create the most sought party to attend. Through an upscale, by-invitation-only party at the ultra-trendy Ghostbar, including provocative invitations, a card to get in upon RSVP, a brochure in the form of a music CD, and a DVD presentation, we created the feeling and personality for Victory Park with a virtual tour of what was to come without traveling to Dallas. The ICSC debut was followed up with targeted trade advertising and heavy public relations.
The Ghostbar party became the most coveted party at the tradeshow, with some attendees even offering to buy the invites from others to get in. The DVD produced for the event was so well received that it was picked up and played on the JumboTron at the Fashion Mall in the famed Las Vegas strip for three weeks. Victory Park exceeded its goal of signed retailers ahead of schedule, with 20 signed by the end of its first pre-leasing year, representing $24 million in lease revenue for the first year of opening. All done in presales. The crowning jewel of our efforts was the commitment gained from Starwood to build the first W Hotel in Texas at Victory Park.