The start of this week was notable for the city’s first real snowfall of the winter, and for the ICSC’s annual New York National Conference. Attendance at the event, a trade show for retailers, landlords and other retail real estate professionals in the Northeast, is up 15 percent over last year, according to ICSC. Approximately 7,000 participants packed the two-day conference, swarming among exhibit booths and meeting areas scattered through the New York Hilton and the Sheraton New York.
This year’s conference was marked with a renewed optimism, according to J.D. Parker, regional manager for Marcus & Millichap.
“Last you everybody was in a rush to do deals by the end of the year,” he said. “This year the market is very active and people are working on deals that are going to go into next year.”
The fast-food retailer McDonald’s is actively looking for locations in Manhattan, according to a sign posted prominently at their booth.
Many vendors offered candy and treats to weary conference-goers, with Pomerleau Real Estate, a shopping center operator from Vermont, serving up particularly find chocolates from Northern New England. M&M
Realty took another approach, with two massage therapists working onthe back and shoulders of visitors to the booth.
Banks are “extremely eager” to lend development funding, according to Joshua Novoseller, a senior loan consultant with Eastern Union Funding. “Prices are rising and there are fewer deals coming in,” he
Karen Dome, a senior associate at Marcus & Millichap who specializes in the outer boroughs, was busy marketing a 300,000 s/f development site in Jamaica, Queens. The site is in a major transit hub in an under-retailed borough, she said, and could appeal to a number of big box retailers.
Food was a theme of the event, from the many brokers in search of the perfect restaurant tenant to the giant cookies distributed by one generous retailer.
Chantay McBride D’Ambrosio, a leasing agent for Vornado Realty Trust, used the conference as an opportunity to meet with potential food court tenants for the REIT’s $8.8 million redevelopment of the Springfield Town Center in Springfield, Virginia.
In keeping with the trend of increasingly sophisticated food courts, the redevelopment features floor-to-ceiling windows and a “living wall” of plants, D’Ambrosio said.
Fairway Markets plans to open three stores a year over the next four years in the tri-state region, according to Aaron J. Fleishaker, VP of real estate and construction for the company. He participated in a
panel of supermarket experts moderated by Chase Wells, of the Shopping Center Group, on Tuesday morning.
Supermarkets are facing increased competition as all kinds of retailers — from Dollar General and Duane Reade to Bed Bath and Beyond — expand their inventory to include grocery items. In spite of this trend, however, as well as the expansion of specialty supermarkets such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, the panelists said supermarkets have not seen a drop in sales.
“There doesn’t seem to be a clear explanation for where all this extra sales volume is coming from. (But) I’m certainly eating more,” Wells said.
Conference regulars have grown expert at planning their meetings to minimize the wintry trips between the two hotels, but next year there will be less of a need to brave the elements. In 2014, the dealmaking
and networking will happen in the expanded Jacob Javits Center on the West Side.