The Hynes Convention Center hosted the ICSC New England Deal Making Conference in Boston last week from July 19 through July 21. ICSC announced that attendance was at an all-time high of about 1,200 people. The conference kicked-off with several social activities, including the golf tournament, the new sporting clays event and the retailer fun run. Feedback on all events was very positive.
The show’s first day sessions were interesting and diverse – ranging from public/private projects, current issues facing capital markets and the retailer runway. The Next Gen Committee held a real estate version of the classic gameshow – Jeopardy – with host Josh “Alex Trebek” Levy of Waterstone quizzing the contestants on all things retail. After lively interactions from the contestants, Lori McWeeney of Blackline Retail Group was crowned the Jeopardy champion. The keynote speaker at the lunch was Stephen Karp, Chairman of New England Development. In his remarks, Steve highlighted the vast changes in our industry – as his company has moved from enclosed mall development to mixed use urban projects to outlet development. His broad experience brought an interesting perspective to the conference, especially for the younger participants in the audience.
The deal making session was crowded and busy – particularly in the morning. The energy was positive and the meetings were reported to be productive. As is generally the case in the summer, attendance started to dwindle as the day progressed. Attendance at The Wilder Companies after-conference party that wraps up the show was strong and, overall, feedback on the two day show as positive. Attendees were happy to see the show moved back to the typical Tuesday through Thursday schedule, after the experiment last year with the Wednesday through Friday schedule. ICSC seemed to be signaling their commitment to maintaining the New England show as a major attraction for all sections of the retail industry.