ICSC unites at Javits

Mall giants Westfield, GGP, rejoin official location after hiatus

The ICSC conference is moving to the Javits Center this month.
The ICSC conference is moving to the Javits Center this month.

The second-most important show for New York’s retail dealmakers is moving from a disjointed layout spread among several hotels in Midtown to a single location at the giant Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on the West Side.

The International Council of Shopping Centers is relocating the New York National Conference show, held in prior years at the New York Hilton Midtown and the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel.

The new location is expected to make the show, set for Dec. 8 and 9, more closely resemble the world’s largest retail conference, RECon, held each May in Las Vegas.

Concentrating the show in a single location is expected to be more conducive to dealmaking among brokers and exchanging information. Talk on the show floor is likely whether the market is headed for a correction and what is in store for broker moves.

In addition, for the first time in years, two of the mall giants that had previously taken space in Midtown hotels away from the official ICSC locations — Westfield and General Growth Properties — will be exhibiting at the show.

A Westfield representative said because of “space considerations” the mall company had taken space at the London Hotel last year.

“Our team of 40 attending the conference looks forward to sharing our newest initiatives,” the company said in a statement.

“The big change, and it is directly related to going to Javits, is having all the exhibitors in one place and under one roof,” said David Firestein, a partner at SCG Retail. “When we were at the Hilton, many people never made it over to the Sheraton.”

Some see the Javits’ somewhat remote location as a plus.

“In some ways, it will force people to stay the whole day,” said Joanne Podell, a vice chairman at Cushman & Wakefield.

Attendance at the show is expected to rise substantially this year, ICSC said in a statement, in contrast to RECon. There attendance has remained nearly flat in recent years, rising less than 3 percent to 33,500 in 2014 from 32,600 in 2012.

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Here in New York City, attendance is expected to jump by about 12 percent, to an estimated 8,500 this month, from 7,600 last year.

That growth could be part of a larger trend, said Chase Welles, an executive vice president at SCG Retail. “The regional shows, as opposed to the national show, are getting more important.”

Some see the move as even broader.

“The New York City show is growing as it becomes more global, getting brokers, tenants and developers with projects from all over the world,” Robin Abrams, an executive vice president at Lansco, said.

Of course the city itself attracts investors, with its generally rising rents and stable tourism base.

“New York is the go-to city of choice for foreign investment — both individual and institutional — which continues to have a positive ripple effect on the larger market as a whole. It represents stability,” said Ike Chehebar, CEO of the retail-focused investment firm the Jackson Group.

The move to the larger venue will have an impact, by itself.

“I think it will change the feel of the show a little bit,” Welles said. “People can’t wander in and take meetings at an Irish pub.”

But the talk on the floor and at the after-show parties is expected to revolve around whether rents have hit a peak, and about brokers moving and firms consolidating. For instance, Massey Knakal Realty Services is on the market for a full or partial sale, and sources said RKF was quietly being shopped, although the firm denied it last month.

“It is the talk. Companies are looking [to buy firms] and brokers are all talking about it,” Patrick Breslin, an executive managing director at Colliers International, said. But changes are afloat with individuals as well. “There are a lot of shifts and change [among] individual brokers too. It is an interesting time in the brokerage business.”