ICSC 2015 National Deal Making – Bigger, Better And Back At The Javits Center
This is the second year that the New York ICSC has been held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and no one is pining for the old venue. Attendance was up, perhaps breaking 10,000, which would be an all time record. The mood of the crowd was very positive, perhaps even ebullient, reflecting the strong economy, especially in the New York metro area. Some say that the New York ICSC is on its way to rivaling RECon in Las Vegas. Evidence of this can be seen by those who are attending the New York ICSC. Of course, the majority of attendees are still made up of professionals who spend much of their time doing deals in and around the New York metro area. But, more and more, you see retail professionals from other parts of the country not only attending, but also exhibiting at the show conference. One example is Hendon Properties, a best in class shopping center and mall developer/operator based in Atlanta. Charlie Hendon, President of Hendon Properties, said that he decided to exhibit because “it is important to plant a flag at the New York ICSC as its importance in the retail industry grows.”
Further to this, the New York ICSC is also becoming an important conference for international retailers seeking to expand into the US. One example is La Place, a Netherlands-based fresh, fast casual food concept who has entered the US with a grocery store called Bfresh in Allston, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. La Place also has a novel arrangement with Google where La Place has a restaurant embedded within Google’s NYC office for Google’s employees. We met with Brien Aherne and Abe Wijnia of La Place who reported that they had many productive meetings at the New York ICSC.
The ICSC Program included a workshop on omni shopping and its impact on Shopping Centers. As we noted last year in our blog post regarding the 2014 New York conference, the evolution of the customer experience is in process. Retailers and Shopping Center owners need to understand the changing landscape to meet shopper’s needs and expectations.
There was some speculation about what impact a decision by the Fed to increase rates would have on our industry. But this talk did not take on a doomsayer’s tone; rather, it was more matter of fact that would be dealt with in the normal course of business and speculation on its impact on cap rates.
All in all, most of the people we spoke with left the New York conference feeling that the time spent was very productive, with many believing that real deals will be forthcoming from their many meetings at the New York ICSC.