With buzz phrases like “omnichannel” and “customer disruption” dominating the retail conversation, landlords and tenants attending RECon 2014 in Las Vegas last May made it their mission to ensure that brick-and-mortar remains relevant.
Even the recent spate of store closures — RadioShack and Coldwater Creek, most notably — did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the 32,000 attendees of the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual event May 18-20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
In fact, talk of store shutterings was supplanted by news of robust opening plans among the specialty set such as Athleta and Zumiez, as well as bigger-box growth by Lowe’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Shopping center owners had their own good news to share. “Our sales are at an all-time high, running $471 per square foot across the portfolio at the end of the quarter,” said Michael Glimcher, CEO of Glimcher Realty Trust, Columbus, Ohio. “We think the best properties are only going to get better.”
Andy Graiser, co-CEO and co-president of A&G Realty Partners, Melville, New York, sees positive momentum in the A and B-plus malls. “Developers are focused on turning ‘A’ malls into ‘A-plus’ malls,” he said. “And they are putting a lot of money behind it.”
But let’s face it. Not all the news coming out of RECon 2014 was rosy, particularly on the retailer bankruptcy front. “We think there will be more bankruptcies down the road,” Graiser predicted. “The apparel industry hasn’t fully shaken out yet.”
Stay tuned, said Graiser.
The one sector that has everyone singing, however, is outlets. Outlet centers are dominating new development, and retailers are sharpening their outlet focus. RECon 2014 had a full menu of outlet centers on display, and the interest from retailers appeared high.
Overheard in the Aisles
“We want people to know that sustainability is something we take very seriously.”
— Eric Davidson, Regency Centers
“Markets to watch? Washington, D.C., is limited only by a lack of real estate; New York City is on fire, and Boston is warm.”
— Jonathan Lapat, Strategic Retail Advisors
“The lingering talk about a recession has been let go. People are feeling that we have turned the corner.”
— Ralph Conti, RaCo Real Estate Advisors
“We are all hearing more about new development, but the reality is that it will take time. People are more encouraged, but where’s the beef?” — Stephen Coslik, The Woodmont Co.
“Food is fashion. There is lots of interest in restaurants.”
— Faith Hope Consolo, Douglas Elliman Real Estate
“People are craving a different food experience in centers. We are looking at how we integrate food here and there as opposed to in a food court.”
— Jane Lisy, Forest City Enterprises
“We are really focused on food, from fast casual to fine dining.”
— Dan Sheridan, The Irvine Co.
Three hot projects displayed at RECon all make a good point — in their names. Celebration Pointe, Steelpointe Harbor and South Point Shopping Center are set to point shoppers their way.
Celebration Pointe broke ground in April in Gainesville, Florida, and will feature 300,000 sq. ft. of retail, along with food uses, residential, hotel and office. Just before RECon, the developer — Atlanta-based RaCo Real Estate Advisors — announced that Bass Pro Shops will anchor the project. Leasing is being handled by Avison Young, Toronto.
New England’s Steelpointe Harbor is a 2.8 million-sq.-ft. waterfront mixed-use project in Bridgeport, Connecticut, bordered by the Long Island Sound to the east and Interstate 95 to the west. The 50-plus-acre site will include an active “deepwater” marina; Phase I is slated to open late 2015 and Phase II in 2016. Bass Pro Shops has also given the anchor nod to this project.
South Point Shopping Center is a 700,000-sq.-ft. super-regional power center located just off Interstate 75 in McDonough, Georgia. Phase II is currently under development and slated to open in late 2015 or early 2016.
Speaking of outlet fever, The Woodmont Co. is debuting Outlets at Alliance-Fort Worth (Texas), and it’s expected to be a big win for the company and for the market. Located on I-35W, The Outlets will benefit from the retail halo of a top-producing Cabela’s that draws 3.5 million shoppers annually, putting that store in a solid No. 2 position in the chain.
Ask Stephen Coslik, Woodmont chairman, what’s so special about Outlets at Alliance-Fort Worth, and he ticks it off: “No. 1, it’s in Texas. No. 2, it’s in Fort Worth. And No. 3, it’s in the epicenter of growth with 700 million people in the trade area.”
Girls, Girls, Girls
The ever-hot Scottsdale Quarter now has more girl power than ever. The iconic American Girl will open its newest experiential retail store at Glimcher’s open-air lifestyle center in Phoenix.
The 12,000-sq.-ft. American Girl store is slated to open in late summer 2015 and will be located within a new 180,000-sq.-ft. expansion of the property.
News released from the floor of RECon: JLL Retail expects BLE and NFC technologies to top the charts of consumer engagement tools in 2014.
“In a world of technological advancements that can lead to a serious case of consumer information overload, two mobile technologies are emerging as the front-runners in the race to successful shopper engagement: Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), also known as Beacons, and Near-field communications (NFC),” said JLL Retail, based in Atlanta.
Tune in to CSA-TV
CSA senior editor Katherine Boccaccio and editor-in-chief Marianne Wilson talked retail and real estate with industry insiders at RECon 2014. Check out the video interviews at chainstoreage.com/community.