Vestar Led Pilot Project Several Years in the Making Now Permanent After Governor Ducey Signs Latest Legislation
What started out as an idea at Vestar, the owners of Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix, Tempe Marketplace in Tempe and numerous other lifestyle centers throughout Arizona and the West, turned into temporary state legislation several years ago. Now it’s a permanent reality.
On May 14th 2022, Governor Ducey signed a law, passed by the Arizona state legislature allowing shoppers, 21 and older to purchase beer, wine or cocktails in participating bars and restaurants and stroll through designated areas of retail developments with the beverage in hand.
While its centers continue to thrive in the ‘Age of Amazon’ and post-pandemic, Vestar has understood that energizing its properties is key to their ongoing success. And that’s just how the idea to permit shoppers to stroll outdoors with a cocktail, beer or wine in hand came to be.
“You can get a drink at a movie theater and walk around resorts and golf courses with a cocktail, so why not retail centers?” asked Pat McGinley, President of Management Services for Vestar.
McGinley said the company did its homework, talked to state officials including the Arizona Department of Liquor, and eventually landed a bill dealing with liquor laws during the 2019 session of the Arizona State Legislature. But that bill was only temporary, allowing but 3 years to test the concept, most of which were impacted by the pandemic.
“We are proud that in 2019, Desert Ridge Marketplace was the first and only shopping center to take advantage of the ground-breaking legislation,” stated McGinley. “The program was met with strong support from our tenants and the community at large.”
The updated legislation (A.R.S 4-215) allows retail properties in the state, greater than 400,000-square-feet with large pedestrian areas, to grant one or more of its existing bars or restaurants permission to serve alcohol to a customer who then may stroll the grounds with an alcoholic beverage in hand during designated dates and times. The plan, which includes security, must be reviewed by the city in which the shopping center is located in, then approved by the Director of the Arizona Department of Liquor. Vestar recently submitted applications to the city of Phoenix and the city of Tempe for Desert Ridge Marketplace and Tempe Marketplace, respectfully.
“As a local restaurant owner, I appreciate the importance of providing fresh and interesting experiences for the consumer,” said State Representative Jeff Weninger. “Making it possible for people to enjoy an alcoholic beverage as they go about their shopping elevates the customer experience in a fun, creative way and can help drive business to retailers.”
Vestar has long been known as a pioneer in new retail experiences from design of the centers themselves to programming of up to 300 events a year on-site. Retail rates like Vestar’s are among the largest generators of sales tax revenue in the state, a key source of funding of state and local governments.
“Between pandemics and online retailing, we are constantly evolving and innovating to help our tenants, as well as to provide a dynamic and different shopping environment,” said McGinley, “Thanks to Governor Ducey and The Arizona State Legislature, our state is leading the way.”