Real-estate company spruces up retail sites with electric vehicle charging

Rollout will start with high-profile shopping malls in San Jose, Calif.; Bethesda, Md.; and Arlington, Va.

Plenty of retailers -- from Kohl's to IKEA to Walgreen's -- have announced plans to play to the hearts of electric vehicle drivers by installing charging stations in their parking lots. Now, a massive real estate management company is seeking to add to the value of its own retail operations by adding chargers across its portfolio.

Federa Realty Investment Trust manages 18.6 million-square-feet of high-profile retail space in markets across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, as well as in California. The company plans to put in electric vehicle chargers from Coulomb Technologies, which makes the ChargePoint Network. The rollout will start at four high-profile properties:

  • Santana Row in San Jose, Calif.
  • Bethesda Row in Bethesda, Md.
  • Congressional Plaza and Rockville Town Square in Rockville, Md.
  • Pentagon Row and The Village at Shirlington in Arlington, Va.

Clearly, it is a benefit to shoppers to have access to the Level II, 240-volt charging stations. But Federal Realty has something to gain, as well, if it charges for energy use and the convenience of topping off your electric car's battery while you're inside making the retail gods happy. It also gets the benefit of being able to use its investment toward its quest to green its own operations. And the installations are good publicity for electric vehicles, generally speaking.

"Besides the obvious environmental benefits, a big advantage of electric cars will be the ability to conveniently fuel your vehicle where you're already stopped somewhere on your daily routine," said Car Charging Group CEO Michael Farkas. "Because of its prime locations across the nation, Federal Realty's unique retail and mixed use destinations serve as popular gathering places within the communities, making them perfect locations to top of your EV battery while you shop or dine."

The deal is reminiscent of two that Car Charging Group signed earlier this year with parking garage operators Ace Parking Management and Central Parking. I have an inkling that this will continue to be a trend in 2012, as businesses look to benefit from electric vehicles. After all, the marriage of fueling stations and convenience stores has been a long one. Why not charge your car while you're shopping, if you are going to be occupied for a while?

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