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24 May 2017
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ICSC RECon 2017: Gloomy Markets in Sunny Las Vegas

Put away those action figures and take off that cape, an even better convention is here: ICSC RECon 2017!  The ICSC (or, the International Council of Shopping Centers, as the uninitiated call it) is finishing up its annual real estate convention, which began on May 21st in Las Vegas.  Some of New York’s largest commercial landlords were in attendance, including representatives from Winick Realty Group, Wharton Properties, Crown Acquisitions, Aurora Capital Associates, A&H Acquisitions, United American Land, Zar Property, and the Feil Organization.

ICSC was packed with just as many parties as conferences at swanky locations up and down the Strip.  Names such as JP Morgan Chase, JLL, and Newmark Grubb Knight Frank and CCRE held both formal and informal talks in various hotel ballrooms.  Winick Realty Group took these talks poolside at The Wynn.  Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson went further yet and held an event at XS Nightclub.  Hiten Samtani of the Real Deal began his review of the party thusly: “If the patron saints of testosterone and decadence sat down together and dreamed up the ideal venue for a New York real estate bash, that venue would be XS” (Samtani, 2017).

Notwithstanding the wilder aspects of this convention, real estate landlords and tenants, developers, and investors look to this yearly event as an opportunity to form meaningful connections.  Such connections are especially important now, since the general forecast for this year’s RECon was gloomy.  While the prevailing belief is that traditional retail is on the decline as technology improves and transactions go digital, longtime retail landlords believe that current market-defining tenants who are suffering (like Payless) will simply be replaced by new ones, and further, that e-commerce businesses like Warby Parker are going to increase their demand for physical locations.

Though some familiar faces were conspicuously absent on the convention floor this year, new faces appeared in almost equal number.  New additions to the scene include Shinola, a retailer and manufacturer based in Detroit, which was in attendance for only the second time.  Due to the abundance of retail spaces for rent in New York City, it hopes to make connections that will facilitate its expansion to, perhaps, Fifth Avenue. Another newcomer, Future Land, a residential and commercial development company based in Shanghai, started their RECon tenure with eleven representatives.  Japanese mall developer Forest Mall was also new this year, testing the waters for international expansion.  Perhaps it is the exchange of ideas and innovations that make this event so ideal for networking.  Perhaps it is the open bar.  Either way, regardless of the market forecast, spirits were certainly raised (in both senses of the term).

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