Julie Fielder, a retail leasing agent who has provided services to the city of Birmingham since 2009, has given notice to the Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) to terminate her contract as of November 1, 2017, and the BSD board of directors has accepted it and put out a request for proposal (RFP) for a new retail leasing agent.
Fielder's most recent contract began January 1, 2017, and was on a month-to-month basis, with either party able to terminate with 30 days notice. She has been the exclusive agent within the BSD's boundaries, and could not work on behalf of any shopping center within five miles of the BSD, or with a municipality or downtown within a 15-mile radius of the BSD boundaries.
“With new leadership at the BSD, Ingrid (Tighe, new executive director) has new ideas, and she should have her own team. I still have a passion and loyalty for Birmingham,” Fielder said.
Fielder, a former retail leasing agent with The Taubman Company, has worked with the BSD as a retail leasing consultant since March 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession, when Birmingham, and shopping, was at a difficult nexus. The initial goal of the BSD in hiring Fielder was to put the downtown shopping district on the radar of national and regional retailers, seeking out greater prominence for the city at retail conventions. Fielder created marketing materials for the city, staffed a booth at the International Council of Shopping Centers annual convention in Las Vegas and meetings in New York, and utilized relationships and contacts to highlight the downtown.
As part of the city’s 2016 master plan, created by urban designer Andres Duany of Miami, there was a goal on the part of the BSD to create and maintain a walkable, vibrant downtown with a variety of retailers, restaurants and entertainment options. Fielder noted that when Duany revisited the city in 2014, he commented on the achievements along those goals.
“Your retail is really good. The people that are recruiting your shops, the shops you’re getting are amazing. They are national tenants that actually look like local unique stores. I have never seen that before, very clever. So you get really competent merchandising, really competent financing without going with the dopey nationals that everybody has,” Duany said.
In the eight years as retail leasing consultant, Fielder said completed 18 leases and assisted on four others. Retailers she helped to bring to Birmingham include lululemon, Fracesca’s, Paper Source, J. McLaughlin’s, West Elm, Blue Mercury, Evereve, Alex & Ani, Sara Campbell, Allen Edmonds, Nina McLemore, Found Objects, Roccoco, Dailey Method, Home & Garden, Sanders, and Supernatural, among others.
The city of Birmingham is accepting proposals during October and then a decision on a new leasing agent is expected shortly thereafter.