Centeno became Galleria GM in January 2012, takes mall to next level
HENDERSON, Nev. – Nathaniel “Nat” Centeno became the general manager of the Galleria at Sunset in January 2012 and immediately began making plans for the mall’s future. While the Southern Nevada economy hadn’t (and still hasn’t) returned to its former glory, the mall was definitely seeing signs of improvement and knew it was time to invest in its future and, thus, in the community.
“As soon as I came on board last year, we really started talking about it,” Centeno said. “For the past five to six years, the organization has known that a change was needed, but economic conditions did not allow for any major changes. With the makings of an economic recovery for the valley and improving sales at the center, we decided that now was the right time.”
Centeno has been in retail property management for 10 years. The Maryland native jumped at the chance to move back to the Las Vegas area in 2012 to take the general manager position at the Galleria at Sunset and return to the area he enjoyed a few years before.
Centeno has been through a major mall renovation before, but none that have meant as much to the local community as this one. From 2006 to 2008, he was the assistant general manager at the Forum Shops at Caesars and was involved with the renovations of the restrooms, flooring, architectural elements and furniture.
“Renovating a mall for 30-plus million visitors a year with at least 80 percent being tourists is one thing, but renovating a mall where 91 percent of your shoppers are local is another,” he said. “We have young adult shoppers who have been coming here since they were toddlers. We know how important the mall is to the locals and by renovating, we are investing in both the property and the community.”
Centeno has been involved in just about every aspect and decision surrounding the Galleria at Sunset’s $7 million renovation, which began in March.
The renovation, the first since the mall opened in 1996, will be mall-wide and will bring improvements to the food court, center court, handrails, seating areas, high architectural elements, guest services center and the restrooms. There will also be additional amenities added, including a family restroom equipped with private nursing rooms and a family waiting area to cater to the many families that frequent the mall. A new 600-square-foot children’s play area will also be added.
The project will overhaul the look of the mall with a cohesive architectural design and is scheduled for completion in October – just in time for new holiday décor throughout the mall.
In addition to the renovation, the Galleria is also welcoming global fashion giant H&M, which is regularly requested by shoppers. The store will be two levels, more than 19,000 square feet, and located in the heart of the shopping center. Boutique Talulah opened in April and Express recently opened its new store, relocating from the upper level to the lower level. Bath & Body Works is also scheduled to open this month in a new, relocated store.
The bar for hospitality on all levels is higher in the Las Vegas area, which is a positive challenge, Centeno said.
“You have to be really astute and really good about providing customer service,” he added. “It’s difficult to replicate the casinos, given their larger budgets, but we do try to make sure customers have the most pleasurable experience possible so that they want to come back again.”
Serving customers and tenants during the renovation process is important to Centeno and Forest City Enterprises, owner and operator of the property, as the Galleria at Sunset has remained open throughout the construction.
“The goal here was to keep the mall open and operating so there was as little disruption to business as possible. Not only do the tenants appreciate it, but they also appreciate that we included them in the process,” Centeno said. “You should be able to help your tenants help themselves. It’s what we do. It’s about keeping our customers, both tenants and shoppers, safe. That is a huge concern of ours during this renovation process.”
The Galleria at Sunset opened in 1996 and is anchored by Macy’s, JCPenney, Dillard’s, Kohl’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods. It features retailers such as Coach, bebe, Buckle, Forever 21, Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret, Brookstone and more. Owned and operated by Forest City Enterprises, the 1,048,000-square-foot regional shopping center is the only enclosed mall in Henderson and one of the largest in Southern Nevada. In addition to retail, the Galleria at Sunset boasts two full-service and 11 fast food restaurants.
For more information on the Galleria at Sunset visit www.galleriaatsunset.com or contact the mall’s information center at 702-434-0202.