Buoyed by an increase in retailer confidence and lowered rents, attendees of the annual ICSC RECon packed the hallways of the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday.
The morning started a little slow at the first day on the floor, as many of the 30,000-plus agents, brokers, developers and retailers entered the Las Vegas Convention Center with coffee in hand and bleary-eyed, the result of the previous night’s carousing.
The line at the sole Starbucks extended 60 feet until midday. Nearby, lines of men looked at their phones as they had their shoes shined.
In the convention hall’s central hall, which mainly housed leasing brokerage firms, it was the battle for the biggest and most extravagant booths. CBRE, which, as usual, brought the most employees to the convention than any other company, had a huge open floor plan dotted with dozens of tables where hundreds of people gathered to gab and talk deals.
JLL took a more sheltered approach, blocking the view inside its booth with an impressive screen that measured the size of a small bus. However, it was CoStar Group that truly marked its territory on the floor. A double-story booth with glass offices overlooked the bustle of curious clients on its carpet below. It was also hard to ignore the shiny Tesla with $50,000 cash stacked on its dashboard, waiting to be given away to a lucky raffle winner.
Industry players surveyed by The Real Deal generally agreed that the mood yesterday was better than it had been during ICSC 2017, even as concerns loom on the horizon. Some described it as a split market, depending on the company’s situation.
“You have two different sides. One is optimistic about growth and the future,” said David La Pierre, a broker with CBRE.
On the other side are companies confronting existential challenges to their businesses, he said, “managing a very fast-changing environment.”
Some of that uncertainty was reflected in landlords offering “creative” terms, for example shorter leases or rights of the tenant to terminate the lease if it does not hit sales targets, La Pierre added.
Jeffrey Roseman, a broker with Newmark Knight Frank, said activity was high, in part from new categories of tenants that did not exist or were not as active a few years ago, such as the experiential stores and the explosion of quick service restaurants, known as QSRs.
“How many retailers are there in the city that were not, four years ago. It’s not just shoes, apparel and dry goods,” Roseman said, acknowledging that there will also likely be shakeouts in those new industries.
Andrew Mandell, a managing partner of Ripco Real Estate, emerged in the afternoon fresh from a lunch meeting with Winick Realty Group’s Jeff Winick and his daughter Danielle. He said hard work would translate into deals.
“Things can get a little bit tough, but if you have the right relationships, it works,” he said.
ICSC veteran Dana Moskowitz, of HSP Real Estate Group, held meeting after meeting on Monday. “It’s been discussion, and taking temperature,” she said. “With so many people in one place it would take me months to see them all.”