Friday, June 7, 2013

ICSC Convention / Public Plazas

A friend’s observations from the ICSC Convention

For many years I’ve attended the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) annual convention in Las Vegas.  It’s where virtually the entire shopping center industry gathers once a year to make deals, network and learn about new trends.  While I unfortunately wasn’t able to be there this May, Bruce Johnston of Johnston Real Estate Services – an OTR reader and veteran of 28 ICSC conventions - sent me some observations from his perspective:
  • There were more international participants and exhibitors than ever before including some from China, Japan, Korea, the Caribbean, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and across Europe.
  • Bruce wondered how much paper gets recycled or tossed. He saw more people with just a tablet and a cell phone… but no briefcase. 
  • Grocery and drug center owners are still building way too much satellite store space. Bruce believes the market can’t absorb what exists today, so is confused as to why there is a need for more… except that it makes the pro forma work (until they realize it is going to be vacant for a long time…).
  • There’s lots of complaining from landlord and tenant representatives about the workload with no relief in sight. Only the brokers do not complain about being busy.
  • Lots of parties, and very few $5 blackjack tables…the economy must be getting better.
My thanks go to Bruce for sharing. And I will add the following thoughts: There is no question about the globalization of the commercial real estate industry as seen in some of the countries represented at the convention.  The comment about paper brought me back to the term ‘paperless’ society that I feel never really came about.  In my opinion it boils down to whether or not a company adopts an environmentally responsible policy.  When speaking about building, if money is available, there is going to be overbuilding.  It seems almost like a law of nature. Bruce commented on people complaining of too much work. Perhaps these individuals have never had the unfortunate luck to experience a ‘lack of work’ in their professional career.  But overall it sounds like the atmosphere at the convention was very upbeat.

Public Places

My son Kevin turned me on to the May 31, 2013 New York Times article called, “A Streetcorner Serenade for the Public Plaza.”  From the article, “…fresh thinking has focused on cheap, quick, temporary and D.I.Y.-style approaches to creating public space — among these, curbside ‘parklets’ in San Francisco and a communal farm on what had been a derelict parcel in the middle of Phoenix. ‘Small steps, big changes,’ said Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City Department of Transportation.”  

While the energy of a city is often what attracts people, sometimes we need a respite from it all.  Across the street from my apartment is a public plaza with tables, chairs and some trees. Spaces like this are scattered around Manhattan, both indoors and outdoors.  These mini ‘sanctuary’ spots exist because the developer of that property asked the city for some type of ‘bonus’ space for their building.  And, even though what I’ve now come to consider ‘my patio’ is surrounded by huge buildings and loads of traffic, it’s amazing how remote it can feel when I’m sitting there, thinking, reading or working.  All of this is pretty and a step in the right direction.  

A friend told me about a radio segment she heard this week that mentioned how lucky New Yorkers are to have the ‘grand-daddy’ of all public spaces, 840-acre Central Park.  As the largest positive interruption to Manhattan’s grid system of streets you can find people doing almost anything on any given day as you stroll through that fabulous park.  I love New York!


Barry Klayman joined BBR Partners as a partner and Chief Operating Officer.

Youguo Liang, on his new job as Global Head of Research, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. 

In last week’s column I mentioned the newly-launched Citi Bike program in Manhattan.  Thanks to Marty for sending along this photo.

On The Road…

June 11-12:  Chicago, IL

June 13-16:  Felix Family Weekend, Black Mountain, NC

June 24:  Spring Pizza / Drink Thing with a new spirited twist!  
Join fellow commercial real estate folk at:
Joe-G Restaurant
244 W. 56 Street (bet. Broadway and Eighth Avenue)  
6 – 9pm
Famous Joe-G pizza on me – drinks on you 
I look forward to seeing you there!

June 25 – 26:  NAREIM Asset Management and Acquisitions – Summer Meeting, Georgetown University, Washington, DC. 

Sept. 15 – 17:  NAREIM Executive Officer Fall Meeting, New York, NY

Oct.  23 – 24:  PERE Summit New York, NY


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