More than 36,000 dealmakers flocked to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual global retail trade convention RECon Las Vegas this week, marking the highest attendance figures seen since 2008.
Attendance at ICSC hit a high in 2007, with more than 50,000 people showing up. The low was 2010, when less than 29,000 people made the trek, according to figures from the organizers.
Sons of ours
In recent years, a fresh crop of retail real estate scions has emerged on the scene, and many showed up to the Las Vegas Strip to schmooze and get deals started. The Real Deal caught up this year with Stanley Chera, son of Haim Chera, both of Crown Acquisitions, which owns stakes in major Fifth and Madison avenue properties as well as in Soho and Brooklyn; cousins Jack and Jack Laboz, sons of brothers Albert and Jason Laboz, all of United American Land, which has major retail holdings in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn; and Michael Lewis-Goldman, son of Jane Goldman, who leads Solil Management. The legendary firm owns several billion dollars worth of commercial and residential properties amassed by Jane’s father Sol Goldman.
Other sons in the business who registered as attendees were Joseph Sutton, son of Wharton Properties founder Jeff Sutton; Steven Gurney-Goldman, son of Allan Goldman of Solil Management and Jack Sitt, son of Joseph Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities.
New York retail trends
New York brokers said the halls — and parties — looked more crowded this year.
“There is no trepidation,” said Joanne Podell, vice chairman at Cushman & Wakefield. She predicted that retail rents would remain stable in Manhattan, except in some corridors such as the Financial District, where they could jump.
Inside the convention’s walls, there were changes.
There was more action in the South Hall, where many retailers were concentrated as opposed to landlords, “leading me to believe that more street deals through brokers were being done, versus deals for shopping centers with developers,” Robin Abrams, executive vice president at Lansco, said.
But each market comes with its own challenges. In some, tenants are looking to sell their leases and other firms are trying to make their presence felt, for example on Madison Avenue.
“It’s all about menswear looking on Madison,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chair of retail leasing and sales at Douglas Elliman.
Christopher Conlon, who runs leasing at Acadia Realty Trust, said the hot retail market in Brooklyn remains something of a mystery to foreign retailers seeking to gain a foothold in the borough.
“Brooklyn is being discussed in conference rooms around the world. Real estate executives are being told to get a store in there,” Conlon said. But “there is a lot of confusion as to what is the best execution of Brooklyn.”
Acadia is pitching its giant City Point project in Downtown Brooklyn as a “low-risk entry” into the borough, he added. Asking rents ranged from $150 to $250 per foot, and may include a percentage rent, Conlon said, for the nearly 46,000 square feet of ground floor space that will be divided into 15 or 20 stores. A Ripco Real Estate team of Peter Ripka and Jason Pennington is marketing the space.
In Queens, a Crown Retail Services team of Jack Chera, Isaac Mograby and Morris Dabbah is marketing nearly 23,000 square feet on the ground and nearly 32,000 square feet on the second floor of Flushing Commons, at 38-18 Union Street.
Insiders said a large apparel retailer may anchor the site with a 30,000 square foot deal on the second floor.
Mograby, speaking with TRD Tuesday at the convention center, would not comment on listing other than to note that some Manhattan-focused retailers are shifting their gaze to the east.
“The cosmetics guys are starting to look at the borough,” Mograby said.
Leaving Las Vegas
Dealmaking in Vegas happens in a wide array of settings. On Sunday, one may encounter a top executive, bare-chested and sunburned, talking with investors by the pool. The next day, he’ll might be in casual wear at the Cushman & Wakefield party and then the next morning, sporting a sharp suit.
But all the schmoozing — the walking, the cheek-kissing and back-slapping, the dinners and the endless partying — can take a toll. As New York players run into each other again and again, the conversation can hit a wall.
RKF broker Ariel Schuster captured the mood on a t-shirt, providing answers to the reflex questions fired off by distracted and exhausted brokers: Where are you staying? When are you leaving? How’s the show?
The t-shirt simply reads