We are back from the ICSC’s RECon Global Retail conference, and needed the full long weekend to recover! More than 34,000 real estate professionals attended the event (substantially exceeding last year’s attendance), and the mood among was decidedly upbeat.
While the conference has always been the single most important event on the calendar of U.S. developers, property owners and retailers, this year the international appeal of retail and retail development was clearly on display. Non-U.S. development companies, such as the Wanda Group, SCPG and McArthurGlen, were visibly present. Similarly, many European were meeting with various property owners to discuss possible locations for entry into and/or expansion in the U.S.
Construction of urban, mixed use projects in gateway cities remains front and center for many developers whether domestic or foreign. Also, repositioning of second tier malls through de-malling (or partial de-malling), and/or conversion to a discount/outlet format is a trend that shows no signs of abating. Fashion wings, which are build-outs in existing malls designed to host premium brands such as Sur la Table, Lucky Brand and Nordstrom are also continuing to flourish.
While the specter of Lehman Brothers still lingers in the air, interest rates and cap rates remain low, and there seems to be no shortage of opportunities for new projects and new deals. Which of course leads us to Peyton Manning (himself the owner of several Papa John’s restaurants), who, in his opening speech to convention-goers, likened the real estate business to football, in “success is dependent on spotting opportunities that are not apparent to other players”. For those of you that attended RECon this year, we hope that you spotted such an opportunity.