Moreover, Fashion Island and the surrounding offices and hotels of
Newport Center are increasingly referred to as “downtown” Newport Beach,
particularly with City Hall relocating from its cramped digs on the
peninsula to an ultra-modern and energy-efficient campus a few blocks
from the shopping center.
The executive piloting what the Irvine Company calls the “Fashion Island renaissance” is Dan Sheridan,
president of the company’s impressive retail properties division and a
veteran of the highly competitive retail industry. Sheridan joined the
Irvine Company a year ago after a long run with shopping center
powerhouse General Growth Properties.
He recently talked
with Churm Media CEO and OC METRO publisher Steve Churm about Fashion
Island’s reinvention, why sales and the number of visitors at the center
are on the rise and consumer confidence four years after the economic
crash. It’s no surprise that this executive believes Fashion Island is
on a continent of its own when it comes to concept and experience.
OC METRO: What is the Fashion Island renaissance? Dan
Sheridan: The renaissance or the reinvestment dates back to 2008, when
the company took a look at Fashion Island and wanted to reinvest in the
asset. A large part of it has been a major merchandising and marketing
strategy to take advantage of the center’s location as a premier retail
center, ringed by offices and hotels. It looks and feels like a
downtown. The company wanted to enhance this outdoor coastal shopping
experience by attracting unique, first-to-market boutique-type retail
and food offerings to go with that downtown feeling. In the last 18 to
24 months, many of the 40 new stores and restaurants we opened are
either the first locations in Orange County or the first on the West
Coast. This is what the company wanted with this renaissance.
OCM: Where are we on that reinvestment timeline? Sheridan:
It’s hard to answer, because the evolution will never be fully
complete. Nordstrom opened in 2010, and that was a major piece of the
renaissance. Adding a 20,000-square-foot retail building and three to
four new restaurant “pad locations” around the center is next. We are
constantly looking for ways to expand. What will set Fashion Island
apart in this crowded, highly competitive consumer-retail market is the
experience. Our search to improve that experience will never end.
OCM: What makes Fashion Island unique? Sheridan:
I go back to that California coastal experience. Many of us who live
here take this for granted. But it is one of the most spectacular
shopping settings in the country, and we want to enhance that at every
turn we can.