Francesca Valdes is on a mission to reshape the retail mix in downtown Coral Gables.
For the past 10 months, the former Tiffany & Co. spokesman has been exploring all of South Florida looking at potential new tenants who could encourage deals on Miracle Mile and surrounding streets such as Boulevard Ponce de Leon and the Giralda and Aragón avenues .
“We have five goals,” Valdes told the Real Deal. “Women’s and men’s clothing, men’s and women’s accessories, athletics, chef-led restaurant concepts and home-design stores – that’s the trend that successful shopping malls are following.”
Although his official title is a specialist in business development, Valdés focuses primarily on creating a retail mix that complements the existing shop windows in downtown Coral Gables. Valdés was hired in November, almost at the same time as consulting firm Downtown Works completed a retail study that concluded that Coral Gables has an authentic center with a good scale for retail.
However, the study identified weaknesses such as building colonnades that reduce the visibility and accessibility of stores and a group of bridal shops that do not attract repeat customers and do not serve local customers. Downtown Works had 260 shop windows along the Miracle Mile and the surrounding streets. Of those, 12 percent were vacant as of June 22, 2016. The study also found that 170 stores could be considered real retailers, but only 14 percent sold clothing, shoes and accessories.