As an
executive at Jamestown, Kristen Morris is involved in some of the Southeast’s
most exciting retail destinations, including the Ponce City Market in the heart
of Atlanta (the property is slated to open in 2014). In today’s Four on Friday,
we chat with Kristen about her responsibilities at the firm, suburban
communities’ embrace of mixed-use retail development and why real estate is in
her blood.

Many
thanks to Kristen for her time.


Kristen_Morris_0739HS: Give us an
overview of your responsibilities at Jamestown.

As the vice president of Jamestown Realty, I oversee properties in the
Southeast and the teams that execute leasing at those sites. Those properties
include, in Atlanta, Westside Provisions District, Ponce City Market and
Metropolis. Additionally, I oversee One West Victory in Savannah, Encore in
Nashville and Warehouse Row in Chattanooga.

I also work with my Jamestown Real Estate Services teammates on placemaking
and product development of our properties. I’m on the Ponce City Market
development team and am participating in crafting what that experience will be.
Also, a lot of what you see at White Provision is the result of my influence
and work with the designer to create a compelling and comprehensive consumer
experience beginning at the property line.

I drive the merchandising strategies for our properties, much of which
is based on strong data gathered from market analysis, consumer research,
retail trends and our own vision of the ideal retail experience. From the strategic
plan, I craft the retail vision story, intertwining the history of the
development — we usually work with historic properties — with market and
consumer information. I then work with our in-house Creative & Marketing team to create the
marketing materials used to support the sales process.

Finally, and most importantly, I curate the retail prospects and
transact the deals through lease execution.

HS: Jamestown
has created a lot of excitement in the Atlanta market with its development of
Ponce City Market. To what extent do you see infill, mixed-use projects taking
hold in some of the other, perhaps smaller markets in the Southeast?

All over the Southeast, I see street retail making a big comeback. There
is a push toward re-gentrification of the urban core in cities across the Southeast.
Nashville and Chattanooga are great examples of this. 

I also see a good deal of revitalization in suburban, bedroom
communities such as Downtown Woodstock, Ga. This is a perfect example of a
sleepy, suburban train town that is now home to a vibrant redeveloped mixed-use
property featuring residential, office, retail and restaurants where friends
and neighbors flock to experience a genuine sense of community.

Consumers now desire and seek out more authentic retail experiences
than in previous years.

HS: A lot has
been made about the promising future of infill, mixed-use properties. What kind
of future do more traditional retail establishments — such as malls and
lifestyle centers — face?

Malls and lifestyle centers are going to hold their place in the
shopping center arena, and people are going to continue to go to them to have
their retailing needs met. It may just be more of a commodity retail experience.

HS: Your bio
page notes that you were an anthropology major in college – what led you from
that line of study to the commercial real estate industry?

I grew up in the real estate industry, and I couldn’t get it out of my
blood. I have a passion for anthropology and enjoyed my studies tremendously. I
think what I did in college has been helpful in rounding out my perspective on
placemaking and how people act and function and what they want. I’ve been able
to tune into that when we’re developing properties.

But my mother is a veteran of the shopping center industry and enjoyed
long careers with Simons and Cousins Properties before running her own company
for 35 years. My father ran a large residential real estate firm, Northside
Realty in Atlanta, for 20 years.

So real estate was in my blood.