The Statue of Liberty Location
By Tony Ozelis

Among the most-common topics you’ll come across in the Bad Dirt section here on Location Island is going to concern things like bad visibility and/or bad access. Although only two of the many things that can impact the potential success of a site, they are among the most important. So, in this installment, we’re going to take a brief look at access.

Statue of Liberty photoOur tongue-in-cheek reference to one of our nation’s most beloved landmarks serves as a great illustration of why a site’s access is almost always mentioned along with its visibility. Because it's very difficult for a good site to have one without the other.

For those of you that have never had the pleasure of seeing Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi’s masterpiece; she's graciously adorned New York Harbor ever since 1886; welcoming those tired, poor and yearning to be free… and today, she can easily be seen by over 9 million people daily. The only problem is, because she stands approximately 2,000 feet from the nearest landmass, direct access is an issue; especially if you lack a boat or abilities biblical in nature.

Simply put, a Statue of Liberty Location is one that can be seen from a great distance, but lacks the access to truly make it a good site for many uses, unless of course you happen to be in the landmark business...

liberty island drawing

In development terms, the statue's access is limited by a Physical Trade Barrier, in this case, it's the water surrounding the site. Of course if the harbor froze over (like in one of those really, really bad disaster movies), you could just walk over to it…although why you’d be walking over to the Statue of Liberty while the world was coming to an end is beyond me, but I digress.

It's important to remember that Physical Trade Barriers take on many different shapes. They can be natural, like in our illustration above, or they can be man-made and sometimes they can even be temporary in nature (like in the event of road construction).

Take the location of this QSR restaurant in the aerial below as an example.  It sits among a large dining & entertainment development just off a major interstate. The roadway had a recorded average daily traffic count (ADT) of approximately 130,000 cars per day and because there is nothing blocking its view, visibility is certainly no issue.

photo of a physical trade barrierThe real problem here is that although there is well-marked exit just west of the site, the state department of transportation had constructed a safety barrier on the service road that prevents vehicles exiting the interstate from directly accessing the development. In order to do so, people need to take a fairly circuitous route around the development to a far side entrance.

Now, in defense of the developer, the original plans for the complex included a front main entrance equidistant between the two exit ramps, but the engineers at the state DOT demanded the change during the construction of the center and, of course, after all of the leases were signed. Ouch...

So you can see Physical Trade Barriers can be man made or natural in nature, but the end result is usually always the same, inconvenience to the customer. Although somewhat extreme in nature, in these two illustrations prove out that you should only think of visibility as a single spoke in the wheel of what really constitutes a good location.

On a somewhat happy note, both of these sites do fairly very well for themselves. The QSR does over $1.4mm in yearly sales volume and the Statue of Liberty regularly receives as many as five million visitors a year.

But you can only wonder how busier they'd be, if their access was better.  

Happy Hunting... $7.49 .com

About the Author: Tony Ozelis is a real estate development consultant and frequent contributor to  Mr. Ozelis' 23 year career has primarily been focused on restaurant and retail development throughout the United States where he has served as a Director of Real Estate for companies such as Pizza Hut, Inc., Boston Chicken, 7-Eleven and Wendy's International.

With well over 700 successful projects completed to date; he has been at the forefront of incorporating new technologies into corporate real estate development and regularly teaches on subjects such as; Strategic Market Development Planning, Contract Negotiations and incorporating Green Technologies into site design.

Mr. Ozelis is a member of both the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

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