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Bumper RECon crowd expected at annual Vegas retail pilgrimage

By Sarah Trefethen

Retail real estate professionals from around the work will converge on Las Vegas next month for the International Council of Shopping Center’s annual global real estate convention, RECon.

Hundreds of New Yorkers — including landlords, brokers, lenders, attorneys, architects, economic development advocates, reporters and students — will make the trip to Sin City this year for three days of networking and market analysis.

“If you’re in this aspect of real estate, if you don’t attend this, you’re not really in the game,” said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group.

From the massive maze of exhibits in the leasing mall to an onslaught of panel discussion and networking parties, the event is an opportunity to scout out hot new retailers and discuss the national and international retail landscape with experts at the top of their game.

The relationship between online and traditional brick-and-mortar shopping with be a hot topic this year. Consolo’s annual panel discussion will focus on the effect of technology on the marketplace, including retailers who have expanded from doing business exclusively online to include real-world storefronts.

With its poolside parties and the indulgence-focused Las Vegas backdrop, RECon is a sunny, relaxed counterpart to ICSC’s New York conference in December. But that doesn’t mean it’s not serious business.

“It’s the biggest audience of retail players,” said Adelaide Polsinelli, a senior director at Eastern Consolidated who heads the retail condo sales group there. “You have their attention, they are all focused on making deals and they’re looking to connect with people they don’t usually connect with. I go there with the intent to do business and I may not close the deal there, but it will certainly bring it ten steps closer to closing.”

It’s also an important chance to let the wider retail and real estate communities know about what’s going on in New York.

“I’m bringing a lot of interesting deals with me that I need to put to the national market,” Polsinelli said.

Steven Levitt, author of the bestselling “Freakonomics,” will be Sunday’s keynote speaker. On Monday, attendees will hear from Randi Zuckerberg, former head of marketing at Facebook and founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, and Gregory Wasson, president & CEO of Walgreens, will address the conference Tuesday.

Educational sessions will cover topics including legal issues, financing and business strategies for retailers and shopping center owners alike.

ICSC is anticipating as many as 32,000 attendees this year, which would be the largest the event has been since before the 2008 economic downturn. More than 1,000 companies will exhibit in the one million square feet Las Vegas convention center, May 19 through 21.

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