The Real Deal New York

Bloomberg underscores tourism, government impact on retail sales at ICSC

Dealmakers walk the floors at national show in New York
By Adam Pincus | December 05, 2011 04:43PM

[Updated 3:01 p.m., Dec. 6, 2011 with breakdown of Massey Knakal listings] Mayor Michael Bloomberg highlighted the impact of tourism and government on New York City’s retail marketplace, during his speech to attendees of the country’s second largest retail convention held in Midtown, and hosted by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

He said the city is the nation’s top tourist destination, expected to draw a record more than 50 million visitors this year. Foreign visitors’ overall spending has surged, he noted, with each visitor spending an average of $1,700 each on a trip to the Big Apple.

“Retail spending by international visitors [In New York City] was 37 percent higher during the third quarter [of] this year compared with the same period in 2010,” he said.

Bloomberg was the headline speaker for the first day of the ICSC’s two-day New York National Conference & Deal Making, at the Hilton New York Hotel and the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers.

His administration’s impact on retail development was substantial as well, he said, creating about 650,000 square feet of retail space in the city through affordable housing developments over the past seven years.

The city will be a part of bringing millions of square feet of additional retail development, he said.

“Zeroing in on underused land throughout the city and combined with targeted public investment,” he said, “we create the potential going forward for millions of square feet of retail space in all five boroughs.”

Back at the show, brokers said there seemed to be more activity this year than last year.

“There is clearly a buzz. It feels better than the last few years,” said David Firestein, president of retail brokerage Northwest Atlantic, who represents Starbucks Coffee in Manhattan. While Jeffrey Winick, CEO of Winick Realty Group, said this morning, “I think it is going to be an amazing show.”

The conference as of Monday afternoon had an attendance of 6,600 people, and that figure may increase tomorrow, a spokesperson for ICSC said. The total attendance for 2010, she said, was 6,100.

Real estate professionals, such as Benjamin Fox, executive vice president of Massey Knakal Realty Services, were conducting business at the show as well. Massey Knakal launched its retail division in January, and now has 70 sales and leasing listings, Fox said.

He said during the two-day show he planned to meet with a bank and another retailer that may lease space at 885 Sixth Avenue, the Continental rental tower just south of Herald Square.  

Meanwhile, David Zar, a managing member of Midtown-based Zar Property NY, said he was interviewing a handful of retail brokerage firms such as Cushman & Wakefield to market a 13,000-square-foot space in Soho, at 64 Wooster Street

The Soho space is being renovated and should be available by the middle of next year. Zar said his company generally represents itself on smaller spaces, but not for bigger ones like this.

“A space that large requires a larger brokerage company,” Zar said. “There are only a handful of tenants in the market [of that size].”

Doug Calvin, vice president of real estate for the New Jersey-based Party City Retail Group, provided insight into his firm’s retail leasing strategy during a public session known as “Retail Runway,” in which executives discuss their plans in front of several hundred show attendees.

Nationally, Party City has converted 32 temporary leases to permanent ones in recent years, including a 2010 deal at 30-10 Whitestone Expressway in College Point, Queens for a 20,000-square-foot space.

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