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FEATURE STORY
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Fashion Island, continued ...Published: October 01, 2012

OCM: You used the term, “downtown” in referring to Newport Center. Has Fashion Island and, to a wider extent, Newport Center become downtown Newport Beach? Will the Irvine Company try and formally brand this concept?
Sheridan: We don’t have plans to push that idea. It has just evolved over time, and we believe it is an increasingly accurate perception of Newport Center. It goes back to the company’s master plan to have a major retail component surrounded by office space and hotels, and now with City Hall and other services locating here as well, it’s easy to arrive at the assumption. This is clearly a destination for the city and the region.

OCM: Has the opening of Whole Foods and concerns about traffic and parking on that side of the center kept you up at night?
Sheridan: Not at all. We are really thrilled with its arrival. As we add new components to Fashion Island, it is a constant re-education of our customers on the best places to park depending on where they are going in the center. We’ve made adjustments to parking structures, and we will provide appropriate signage to help customers navigate around the center. We know there are those concerns about putting a grocer in a center like this. But remember, the Whole Foods shopper is different than the person who goes to the local supermarket. They are purchasing more specialty items or prepared foods, so they are leaving with one or two bags, not necessarily a full shopping cart of goods.

OCM: What has impressed you most about the center’s evolution in the year you’ve been at the helm of retail operations for the Irvine Company?
Sheridan: I’ve been in the industry for a long, long time, and I don’t know of another owner who is as committed to the kind of reinvestment the way the Irvine Company is in its retail properties. Fashion Island is the best example. Many shopping center owners are not master-plan developers or long-term thinkers, and the fact that this type of strategic approach is happening here ultimately benefits the customer.

OCM: Finally, as a longtime executive in retail space, how would you assess consumer confidence right now? Has it improved?
Sheridan: It’s certainly better than 18 to 24 months ago. Most of what you read suggests that consumer confidence has experienced an up-tick. We see it across our portfolio. Traffic and spending is up. We also see more leasing activity, another key sign that confidence in the economy is improving. I still believe there is a cautious element out there. The European economic uncertainty is a concern, and people think about it. But that being said, we are light years from where we were several years ago. We definitely are feeling better about the future.



≈ HELLO, WHOLE FOODS ≈
The world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket has opened in Newport Beach.
 
What does foodie heaven look like? Perhaps it has row upon pristine row of colorful natural, organic produce, as well as meat, fish, poultry and prepared foods and beverages far too numerous to sample.
   
If you are one of the Whole Foods initiated, perhaps you’ve already made your first visit to the sumptuous new location at Fashion Island. At press time, the interest appears to be quite high, as the opening-day crowds on Sept. 19 were larger than anticipated for O.C.’s fifth Whole Foods location – the first in Newport Beach.
   
The Austin, Tex.-based company is a high-end grocery concept that was founded in 1980 and now has locations throughout the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Named one of OC METRO’s 10 Most Trustworthy Brands for 2012, Whole Foods continues to stress quality as it strengthens its presence in Southern California.
   
The 32,000-square-foot Newport Beach location has all the features and products offered by the brand. In addition, it will feature the coastal-themed Back Bay Tavern, a beer-and-wine bar, along with the national debut of the Tea Hive, a café-and-tea bar.

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Another important thing I thghuot people should know was that when Michael and I were choosing the date for the wedding, the location, the florist everything was based on the fact that Main Event was available on August 1st. Within the week of our engagement the summer before, I called Bob and Michelle and asked for their availability, and when I knew they could only do August 1st- I knew we were getting married somewhere on that day. My sister's wedding pictures were gorgeous and the party never stopped I knew that our wedding day had to have Main Event helping us celebrate. Our pictures are the most beautiful pictures ever and they truly captured how amazing that day was. I am so thankful that Michelle, Bob, Jeremy, and Renee were there to help us make our wedding day as memorable as it was!
Comment at 10/24/2012
Another important thing I thguoht people should know was that when Michael and I were choosing the date for the wedding, the location, the florist everything was based on the fact that Main Event was available on August 1st. Within the week of our engagement the summer before, I called Bob and Michelle and asked for their availability, and when I knew they could only do August 1st- I knew we were getting married somewhere on that day. My sister's wedding pictures were gorgeous and the party never stopped I knew that our wedding day had to have Main Event helping us celebrate. Our pictures are the most beautiful pictures ever and they truly captured how amazing that day was. I am so thankful that Michelle, Bob, Jeremy, and Renee were there to help us make our wedding day as memorable as it was!
Comment at 11/3/2012