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Three town centers that have found success

Town centers, when done right, have shown to be a bright spot in the struggling brick-and-mortar retail industry. Here are three that have found success.

Easton Town Center. Columbus, Ohio. Established in 1999, it was one of the first town centers in the country. Today, it's a destination for 30 million visitors a year, generating more than $1 billion in annual retail sales and $138 million in annual tax revenue, according to its developer, Georgetown Co.

In addition to its 240 stores and restaurants, it has a Legoland Discovery Center, comedy club and 30-screen cinema, as well as 180,000 square feet of offices and more than 100 apartments. Another 2,000 residential units are planned.

Avalon. Alpharetta, Ga. This project sits on 86 acres in its region's most affluent area. The project broke ground in 2013 and, today, has a 98 percent retail occupancy rate with minimal turnover, office rents that are 35 percent more than the surrounding market and luxury apartments leasing at rates 40 percent higher than the competition, according to a case study by the Urban Land Institute.

Among other unique facets, the center has resort-inspired concierge services that include restaurant delivery to residents, private and corporate event planning, as well as tourist information and restaurant reservations for visitors.

North Hills. Raleigh, N.C. Like many malls, the once successful North Hills Mall hit the skids in the 1990s. In 2001, a new owner started a $1 billion transformation into the town center concept. Today, North Hills' retail and office spaces are nearly 100 percent occupied, with rental rates 50 percent higher than average and twice as high for retail.

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