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Retail Views

Focus is on next generation as Miami hosts ICSC conference

By Faith Hope Consolo, Chairman, Douglas Elliman Retail Group

Miami is hotter than ever, but not because the city’s thermometer is rising.

Like no other urban hub in the U.S., the Magic City’s retail real estate market is on fire, making it the perfect place for the International Council of Shopping Centers’ NextGen Conference being held Sunday, July 26 through Tuesday, July 28, at the JW Marriott Marquis.

Photo by Corey Balazowich/ Flickr
Photo by Corey Balazowich/ Flickr

Run by ICSC Staff Vice President Lorraine Mazza, it’s one of the most eagerly anticipated retail conferences of the year and the culmination of the ICSC’s NextGen initiatives, including some 120 programs and grassroots efforts, annually.

“It’s the coming together of the entire business,” said Mazza, who noted the conference has grown and now includes attendees from Europe and Mexico. “People who have been around for 10 years or so — they are the future leaders of the industry and we want to educate, network and cultivate them.”

Discussions by retail powerhouses, along with networking opportunities and live tours of the city’s trendiest retail destinations, will fill the event’s action packed two-and-a-half day agenda.

The first day includes loads of networking, naturally, followed by welcome talks, conversations with those in-the-know and, adding in some hands-on learning, retail tours.

First stop will be Swire Properties’ Brickell City Centre, a more than $1 billion, 5.4-million-square-foot mega mixed-use landmark in Downtown Miami.

Then it’ll be on to The Miami Design District, a revolutionary development in partnership with Louis Vuitton’s brands that is the home of innovative fashion, architecture and all things design.

Also in the mix are: Taubman/ Forbes’ Mall at Miami Worldcenter; a look at some of the world’s most luxurious residential towers; the 7th Street Promenade and its stellar retail; and the Marriott Marquis Hotel & Convention Center. And that’s all before lunch!

Be sure to come back for more talks, including a can’t-miss keynote from Scott Wolstein, past trustee of ICSC and the CEO of Starwood Retail Partners.

End the day with more presentations, a “retail crawl” on the famed Lincoln Road Mall, the country’s top high-street retail location outside of Manhattan, where brands are competing for space to launch their flagship stores. Last, but not least, there will be an IMAX presentation on — you guessed it — retail.

All of these sites are within just a few miles of each other and include two of the top five malls in the country. It’s no wonder. Miami is, after all, a leading international retail mecca.

There’s plenty to see, but remember to pace yourself and save energy for the National Association of Women Business Owners – Miami networking discussion and dinner, taking place Monday evening in Coral Gables.

I’ll share how I got to where I am and a few of my favorite personal branding secrets.

Then there’s Tuesday morning’s intimate breakfast and Executive Board session.

During this highlight, you’ll be able to interact with, and be mentored by, some of the most experienced leaders in the industry, including: R. Webber Hudson, executive vice president of Related Company Retail Group; Gregory Maloney, president and CEO, JLL Real Estate Services; Gene P. Spiegelman, vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield; and Steve Weingarten, senior vice president of Weingarten Realty. I’ll be there too, leading a session where I’ll share wisdom and lessons learned from my own career path. There also will be a Q&A, so bring your very best questions.

If time is tight and you’re not able to join us for the entire conference, no worries.

In a welcome synergy with Commercial Real Estate Women’s Network (CREW), members who are not registered for the full conference are invited to attend the Women’s Special Industry Group (SIG) luncheon panel, being held on Tuesday afternoon. I’m co-chairing it with Mazza, who I mentioned earlier, so I know it’s bound to be a success.

“This is the first one we’re doing with the NextGen folks,” said Mazza. “We want to be the one stop for women in the industry. We’re very excited.”

Yours truly will be moderating and I’ll have an extraordinary group of female notables by my side to discuss “Picking Your Path to Success,” a talk on career paths, trends, challenges and opportunities.

Among them will be: Holly Cohen, ICSC trustee and vice president of Global DTC Retail and store construction of Nike, Inc.; Sandi Danick, senior vice president, leasing, Triple Five; Pauldine France, director of leasing for Thor Equities, LLC; and Carol Spann Joyner, CRX, SCLS, vice president, Southeast.

As the Women’s SIG program co-chair and one of the group’s founders, I’m especially looking forward to seeing how this luncheon can benefit NextGen and CREW attendees alike and help build new relationships.

The NextGen conference will wrap up with its first ever 4 Under 40, which will honor the best and brightest young executives today.

While there, be sure to let your peers know all about the experience by tagging #NextGenConf on social media. I’ll be sure to do the same, so look out for updates and fun photos from me.

Oh, and one last thing: Do reserve some time for a bit of dining, relaxing and shopping. After all, what’s a trip to Miami without a bit of leisure and retail therapy in the mix?

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