Visions of the Future

From notes provided by Carolyn


"Bristol is a large city for there to not be a downtown area." That is one of the conditions that attracted Gatto Development’s attention, according to Scott Goodreau, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for S. Rudy Gatto & Associates, the new owner and developer of The Mall at Bristol Centre, which has fallen on hard times. But, what makes them think that they will succeed where others have failed? What makes them think that they can "turn the corner" so that the mall becomes both an attractive and profitable facility?

Goodreau presented a number of answers. First, the new mall will be more "pedestrian friendly," moving away from the suburban mall-big parking lot concept; that means that the building needs to be "brought out." Then, Gatto recognizes that mall-appeal needs to provide more than just retail space – the trend today has moved away from a mall providing JUST SHOPPING; there needs to be an entertainment component. Some possibilities include an ice-skating rink, a movie complex, hotel, teen center, and restaurants – in addition to quality stores! Of course, that means paying attention to the delicate balance between senior citizens who seek quiet and safety and teenagers who seek stimulation. Simply, there needs to be something for everybody.

Actually, Gatto Development has been interested in the property for a few years – a seventeen acre site located downtown was exciting. However, before bidding on the property, they did a study of the stores, people, and income in the "trade area"; the trade area consists of a seven-mile radius of the proposed project. In that seven mile area, Gatto found a population of 160,000 people with an average income of $60,000 – capturing 1% of four billion dollars would be considered doing well. The project was feasible. Next came a market survey.

Now, since team DISCOVERY had constructed its own surveys, "Culture" and "Entertainment," we were interested in how a developer, investing millions of dollars, creates a survey in THE REAL WORLD. The first rule, according to Scott Goodreau, is to keep it short and SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE – one good question is better than ten average questions. Then, of course, you need to distribute the survey to a number (size varies) of people who are representative of the area, issue, or product being marketed or studied. The returned surveys then need to be translated to a grid and those results need to be analyzed.

Gatto Development surveyed between 1,800 and 2,000 people, setting up a booth at the Home Show in Bristol; while this sample group tends to be somewhat specialized and therefore "tends to skew results," Goodreau feels that the survey still provided significant information which was then interpreted by the Arthur Anderson Consulting Company. One message that the survey shouted was that people want QUALITY, and quality, says Goodreau, is exactly what the people will get. There is the promise that the charm that redevelopment took from downtown will return.


Goodreau, Scott,  Executive Vice-

resident and General Counsel, Gatto Development – interview (3/15/2000)



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