Watch this space for live updates from the 2013 International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon event in Las Vegas, on now through Wednesday.
1:40 p.m. Retail tenants are gearing up to leave their spaces at Pier 17 at the South Street seaport before the pier’s redevelopment begins in October, a spokesperson for Howard Hughes Corporation, the company overseeing the project, said today at ICSC.
In the meantime, Howard Hughes is keeping the pier open during the summer months and has announced an arts and culture program starting Memorial Day to try to bring consumers back to the Seaport following Superstorm Sandy. Stores on Pier 17 were closed for close to a month following the Hurricane.
Among the attractions coming to the pier at the end of the month is SmorgasBar, a beer garden-style watering hole featuring dozens of food vendors curated by the Brooklyn Flea. Movies will also be shown at the pier over Memorial Day Weekend and an art exhibit will be mounted in the Cannon’s Walk area of the seaport.
Commercial brokerage Robert K. Futterman is heading leasing for the new major retail development coming to the pier, which will feature a shopping mall with a 10,000-square-foot rooftop space. No leases have been announced so far. — Katherine Clarke
12:33 p.m. The Real Deal just sat down with Andy Graiser, co-president of A&G Realty Services, a New York-based company which specializes in real estate dispositions, lease restructurings and facilitating growth for major retailers such as Aldo, CVS, Sbarro, Fashion Bug, Design Within Reach, Loehmann’s, Oakley and Restoration Hardware.
Nationally, big box retailers like Walmart are looking for growth opportunities outside of the big box concept, Graiser said. In some markets, those retailers already have substantial big box presence, while in other areas new shopping centers simply haven’t been built thanks to a couple of sluggish years of new construction.
Instead, companies such as Walmart are looking at different types of concepts, such as smaller boxes or stores within stores. A Walmart spokesperson was previously quoted as saying that the retailer was set to open 115 new outlets that have less than 60,000-square-feet of selling space by the end of 2013.
In New York City, Graiser said rising rents on Madison Avenue may lead landlords to try to buy boutique retailers out of their leases in order to secure major credit tenants like Uniqlo, which moved to Fifth Avenue last year. If a landlord has a credit retailer that’s willing to pay $1,500 a square foot, “why wouldn’t you try to get the tenant out earlier?” Graiser said. “A lot of people think the New York market is close to it peak. You don’t know where the market will be in three years.”
In a reversal, Restoriation Hardware, which has a number of mid-sized stores in Manhattan, is sitting tight and looking out for opportunities to snap up a larger space of up to 40,000 square feet in which to showcase its products and with which to reduce its fixed costs, Graiser said. In Boston, where the company recently opened a 40,000-square-foot facility in the Back Bay area, Restoration Hardware has been able to transfer 80 percent of the business that came from its smaller stores to online, catalogue or to the new larger store, according to A&G’s Peter Lynch. Such spaces are harder to find in New York City.
“One the opportunity comes up, they’ll be all over it,” Graiser said. — Katherine Clarke
11:15 a.m. Our reporters Adam Pincus and Katherine Clarke are in Las Vegas scoping out all that ICSC’s annual retail conference has to offer. Any tips? Email Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org and Kathy at email@example.com. And don’t forget to follow @trdny for additional tidbits from the event.