As many of you may know, Englewood Construction recently completed Zara’s largest store in the United States at 700 N. Michigan Ave. in Chicago. For those familiar with Chicago, you may also know this store offers a prime corner location on the city’s famed Magnificent Mile.
But what I want to do is tell you what you may not know about the retail space construction of this Zara store and how to apply this information to your next retail construction project.
1. Hidden traps in retail construction approval process
There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen during the commercial construction approval process (landlord, city inspectors, alderman, etc.), but there are also the not-so-obvious entities that need to be informed about your project. Case in point, we’ve worked on Michigan Avenue for years, so we know you need to keep neighborhood associations like the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association in the loop. But Zara is from Spain and their architect is in Canada. They had never heard of the GNMAA. Make sure your general contractor has a VIP playbook.
2. The holy trinity
The challenges faced in vertical retail store construction, like Zara at Chicago Place, are more complex than most shopping center construction projects as you need to be on the same page with a shopping center’s holy trinity: security personnel, dock managers and mall management. The more advance notice you give them, the more accommodating they will be when it comes to elevator use and scheduling deliveries.
3. Don’t be a noisy neighbor
As Zara was located in a mixed-use building, we needed to respect its fellow tenants, which included a hotel. This meant we were very limited to the hours we could use loud equipment. Your general construction contractor needs to be comfortable working with the time constraints a mixed-use building enforces and know how to schedule work accordingly so you deliver on time and budget.
4. Brush up on your foreign language skills
It behooves an owner and general contractor to have a talk up front about material deliveries, especially when working with an international retailer. With Zara, all the millwork and store fixtures came from Europe and the flooring from Asia. Coordinating overseas deliveries and working with customs is not for the faint of heart.
5. Sleep is for sissies
If your commercial general contractor’s main office is in another time zone from you or your project, the GC should work on your clock, not theirs. As a national retail contractor, we’re used to having multiple projects in different time zones. With Zara, we responded to questions well into the evening because our contacts in Spain were six hours ahead of us and just starting their day.