The city’s top retail landlords and brokers are making final tweaks to their appointment schedule and ironing out which parties and dinners they will attend, just two days before the official start of the world’s largest retail trade show, the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon in Las Vegas. The conference website shows major real estate players plan to attend, such as Jeff Sutton, president of Wharton Properties; Joseph Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities; Michael Fascitelli, CEO of Vornado Realty Trust; and Glenn Rufrano, CEO of Cushman & Wakefield.
The show runs from Sunday through Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. But the real work is often conducted outside the show’s halls, at the parties and dinners.
Thor Equities big poolside bash at the Encore Beach Club on Saturday is seen by insiders as the unofficial kickoff for New Yorkers making the trip to Vegas, while the New York Developers Party, poolside at the Bellagio, is seen as its conclusion on Tuesday evening. Between them there are at least two-dozen parties hosted by brokerage firms including Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, Cushman & Wakefield and Massey Knakal Realty Services, law firms like Gibson Dunn and lenders like JPMorgan Chase.
Show organizers say advance registration is just under 32,000, which is about 1,000 people ahead of the response at this time last year. The final count for attendance was 32,000 in 2011, up from preceding years, but down from the all-time peak of 50,000 in 2007, ICSC attendance figures show.
More New Yorkers were expected to attend the show this year, Gary Alterman, an executive vice president at Robert K. Futterman & Associates, said.
“I definitely get a sense that more people are going,” he said, including brokers and developers. But in addition, he noted other professionals, not just brokers and principals, were attending.
“I think it is a growing phenomenon. Each year I hear about more professional firm like law firms and design firms attending. To meet and greet and find potential new business,” Alterman said.
Patrick Breslin, executive vice president at Studley, said he’s noticed that some smaller retailers with properties in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, who traditionally did not attend, would be making the trip this May.
“They have one or two [mixed-use] buildings. In a couple places in Queens rents are $110 [per foot] to $120 [per foot], when they had been cruising at $60 to $70 [per foot]. Now [the landlords] see there may be an opportunity,” to land a higher-paying tenant, he said.
The busy schedule begins with panels on Sunday including one led by Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Faith Hope Consolo. Monday is the real start of the show, with most insiders beginning their schedule of back-to-back meetings.
“I have about 40 meetings set up, ranging from poolside to at the conference,” Jeffrey Roseman, executive vice president at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, said.
Paul Berkman, an executive vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle, who led a four-person team to JLL from Newmark Grubb Knight Frank last month, is making his first visit to the conference in three years. He’s working more on tenant-side deals than his landlord business.
“For this particular trip we are focusing on our tenant-rep business and spending a majority of our efforts taking meetings with tenants that are national, international or super-regional,” Berkman said.
One broker, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there were hints of a weakness in the New York market. As an example, he said one landlord was willing to wait more than a year and a half to make a deal with a tenant, indicating a lack of competition to step in and take the space. But overall, most expected the New York market and this show to be an improvement over last year.
“I think it is going to be a good, positive market. It will certainly be as active as last year,” said Joanne Podell, executive vice president in retail at Cushman & Wakefield.