New York retail brokers and principals are making late appointments and boarding flights over the next few days in preparation to attend the world’s largest retail real estate show in Las Vegas.
Most of the city’s real estate professionals who focus on leasing and sales of store spaces will be at the International Council of Shopping Centers global convention known as RECon, from Sunday to next Wednesday, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The attendee list is a Who’s Who of New York City retail, from landlords like Vornado Realty Trust, Crown Retail Services and Forest City Enterprises to brokerages like Cushman & Wakefield, CB Richard Ellis and Northwest Atlantic.
Firms send their top executives. Vornado’s Michael Fascitelli, company president and CEO, is registered, as is Jeff Blau, president of Related Companies, which is developing Hudson Yards. Other retail specialists like investor Jeff Sutton are also signed up.
Bradley Mendelson, an executive vice president at Cushman & Wakefield who has been attending the show for decades, said it was originally focused on shopping centers, but has expanded from there. In addition, with the recession, there are in general few new malls debuting new product.
While the show is expected to draw 30,000 attendees, New Yorkers traveling to the convention said they are not expecting to sign deals there. Instead it is a chance to meet with clients, find new ones and massage deals along.
“I don’t think anyone in my group is thinking of making deals,” Mendelson said. “It’s more putting a face with a voice.” Most already have full schedules, and in between meetings must walk the enormous show, with more than 1,000 exhibitors spread over three vast halls.
One objective is to coax deals closer to fruition, using the proximity of so many players as an advantage.
“Often, the personal attention exchanged during the face-to-face meetings helps to work through outstanding issues,” Amira Yunis, executive vice president of the national retail group at Newmark, said.
In addition, landlords use the opportunity to showcase newly available space. Durst Organization plans to formally debut the former ESPN Zone space at 4 Times Square in Las Vegas, the Observer reported last month.
While the ICSC has a full program with panels and events, the days are packed with private meetings, retail professionals say.
“Most attendees make [one-on-one] appointments every half hour and you can’t do much more than request proposals or go through leasing plans in that amount of time,” Karen Bellantoni, executive vice president of Robert K. Futterman & Associates, said.
Jason Pruger, executive managing director at Newmark Knight Frank Retail, said the convention is about more than just deal making and shmoozing — it is also to gauge the state of the economy, follow trends and check in on retailers in other markets or overseas that don’t have a presence in New York.
A huge percentage of Manhattan’s retail brokers attend the show.
Mendelson said “virtually all” the retail brokers Cushman’s office would attend. The website for the convention shows nearly 40 attendees from Newmark’s Manhattan office, and about the same number from Cushman’s New York office.
It’s not just retail-focused professionals attending. Investment sales broker Ivan Hakimian, founder of Hakimian Properties, based in Midtown, said he planned to go, because, “It is more of a networking thing. And also to show face.”