Retail Environment Showing Strong Signs
The improving retail environment is reflected in a strong showing at this year’s ICSC Law Conference held in San Diego last week. There were almost 1400 people at the conference, which alternates annually between the east and west coasts. We find this conference provides a wonderful, educational environment on a broad array of retail-related topics mixed with industry networking that really make a difference in how daily business gets done.
We are happy to report an upbeat mood at the conference. Seminars and workshops covered a broad range of topics from mixed use projects, urban and vertical retail, redeveloping retail properties and entertainment based centers. Conversations uncovered that there are many new projects underway. Developers are starting to work through some of the vacant space that previously plagued some projects due to the glut of tenant bankruptcies- particularly in the big box category. It appears that some vacant space was being back filled with other big boxes, but, due to the diminishing number of big box retailers, developers are also repurposing these spaces --sometimes re-demising them to accommodate small store tenants, or tearing them down to bring in an entirely different user. As a result of this repurposing, the conference included sessions addressing some different uses, continuing the conversation on the expansion from traditional retail uses to entertainment, medical, educational and other non-traditional uses for a retail center.
It was exciting to also see new retailers in attendance as they enter the marketplace. The number of first time and younger attendees is on the increase and so several events focused on these newer members, prompting well attended sessions and networking events. It is great to see the teamwork across the table between law firms and companies sending colleagues to meet their counterparts from across the country to learn about topics from risk management to co-tenancies. In this digital age, the conference was a wonderful opportunity to meet and establish relationships with people you deal with on a daily basis.