Retail pros gear up for ICSC in NYC

From left: Stanley Chera, founder of Crown Acquisitions, Joseph Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities, and Mike
Pappagallo, COO of Kimco Realty

Although just a fraction of the size of the largest global retail convention held each year in Las Vegas by the International Council of Shopping Centers, the trade group’s conference taking place in New York City next week is considered the second most important in the country.

One advantage of its smaller size, insiders said, is that the New York show provides for greater concentration on closing deals.

“In Las Vegas, the annual convention has more pageantry,” Mike Pappagallo, COO for the New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based real estate investment trust, Kimco Realty, said. “At New York there is more good old-fashioned blocking and tackling and deal making.”

About 5,400 people are expected to attend the ICSC’s second-largest retail event in the U.S., known as the New York National Conference & Deal Making. In comparison, the ICSC show in Las Vegas earlier this year attracted about 30,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors. 

Anticipated attendees include most of the top retail players in New York City, such as Stanley Chera of Crown Acquisitions; Joseph Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities; and Sherri White, senior vice president at Vornado Realty Trust, according to an ICSC attendance list. In addition representatives from the major national firms like Starbucks, the Gap, CBRE Group and Cushman & Wakefield, are expected to attend.

The two-day event, starting Monday, takes place in Midtown at two places, the Hilton New York and the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, where about 340 exhibitors will be making their pitches to those walking the floors.

Pappagallo said Kimco, which has about 70 properties in the New York-metro area among its national portfolio, brings about 50 professionals to the show.

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He comes to meet with heads of real estate to get a sense of their expectations, in the context of, “the ongoing uncertainty in the economy and the macro environment, and how that may or may not affect their [plans],” Pappagallo said.

William Bergman, commercial leasing coordinator for landlord Rose Associates, which also manages properties such as Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, wants to get the word out on the available space in the East Side development at the ICSC show.

“We put in new storefronts [at Stuyvesant Town] and we’d love to attract a restaurant,” Bergman said. At the show, “the activity level should be significantly higher than last year,” he said, which itself was an improvement from 2009. He has attended for about seven years.

Aaron Appel, a managing director at Meridian Capital Group, based in Lower Manhattan, said following the economic slowdown in 2008, more lending originated out of New York City.

“A lot of landlords travel to New York from other states,” for the show, he said, because of the focus of New York on finance, and the large amount of institutional lenders based there.

One tenant representative, Matt McGuire, a director of development for the U.S. and Canada for burger restaurant chain Five Guys Holdings, does not have a booth, instead does business by walking the floor in a bright red camelhair jacket.

“Sometimes people tap me on the shoulder and tell me about something coming up in 2013,” he said. The restaurant plans to open six to 10 new locations in New York City next year, he said.

Some looked to the show as a barometer for the current state of the retail market, such as Michael Alpert, president of Midtown-based Ashkenazy Acquisition.

“This year I expect to see a continuation of the upward trend in attendance and general optimism about where the market is heading,” he said.