More than 10,000 retail brokers, landlords and tenants are expected to descend on the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center next week for the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual expo. But seasoned pros know they don’t have to wait until Monday to start wheeling and dealing.
The festivities for this year’s ICSC conference – where organizers expect attendance to hit nearly 10,500, up from last year – start this weekend with two big parties.
Brookfield Property Partners kicks things off Sunday afternoon with a fête at its Manhattan West megaproject. The landlord is using this year’s trade show as an opportunity to formally launch the leasing effort for the project’s 250,000 square feet of retail, which is being handled by a team at JLL headed by Patrick Smith.
Later in the day, the Shopping Centers Group will host a bash at the Dream Downtown hotel in the Meatpacking District – a popular destination for ICSC parties ever since the expo moved to the Javits from the Hilton and Sheraton hotels in Midtown in 2014.
“’ICSC’ and ‘parties’ are used in the same sentence more often than not,” said Acadia Realty Trust COO Chris Conlon, who added that one of the main draws – if not the top draw – of the expo is all the networking opportunities.
On Monday night, the Related Companies is throwing a private event for tenants at a spot in the West 30s across from the convention center showcasing Hudson Yards retail and celebrating the project nearing the 60 percent-leased mark. And Cushman & Wakefield throws its big retail bash that same evening at the Rainbow Room.
When attendees do arrive at the show Monday morning, they’ll find a little more elbow room. The conference has expanded slightly this year to 175,000 square feet. But the big change will come next year, when show planners expect to move from the lower level to a 235,000-square-foot space upstairs.
“We’ll be relocating completely to the upper level at the Javits, where the main events alike the auto show and the boat show are,” said Jason Richter of the boutique brokerage Hudson, chair of the ICSC New York planning committee. “It’s got soaring, high ceilings with windows all over.”
Richter said the goal is to compete with Las Vegas’ annual conference – which had attendance of 36,000 in the spring – for the title of the biggest ICSC show in the country.
“We continue to increase our attendance,” he added. “I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface.”
Certainly the city’s big deals will be on many attendees’ minds. The keynote speaker is Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank, whose company caught everyone’s attention earlier this year when the retailer signed a lease to take 53,000 square feet at the old FAO Schwarz space at the base of the GM Building.
And earlier this week, Nike, which had been edged out by Under Armour at the coveted location, signed a deal for 60,000 square feet at 650 Fifth Avenue.
Snapchat’s pop-up shop at the old Playboy Club at 5 East 59th Street is another deal drawing buzz, and is indicative of a larger trend of landlords signing short-term tenants amid a slower market.
“The biggest trend continues to be pop ups,” she said. “Many of the pop-ups became permanent stores in the last downturn.”
Acadia’s Conlon said one of the big topics of discussion will be the challenges retailers continue to face as they try to figure out the right combination of online sales and bricks-and-mortar stores.
“I’d say it’s 20 percent or less,” who have figured the right mix, he said. “There are some really great retailers who are still trying to figure it out.”